Donald Lambro

Instead, the president continued playing the politics of class warfare, saying, "Our economy isn't built from the top down, it's built from a strong and growing middle class, and that's who we should be fighting for."

Actually, what he and his fellow Democrats are doing in this bill will hurt the very middle class he says he wants to help, by slapping small businesses with higher tax rates that will mean job layoffs now and less hiring in the future.

But wait, there's even more economic damage to come from the Democrats' tax hike package. It will also raise the federal tax rate on investment income from 15 percent to 20 percent.

That won't help the middle class, it will hurt it on multiple levels. It hurts millions of elderly Americans whose income comes from capital gains and dividends derived from a lifetime of investing for their retirement. It shrinks investing in the larger economy which will hurt business expansion and job creation.

Obama says he wants an investment led recovery, but how can you boost investment by taxing it more?

The higher tax rate will also worsen the budget deficit. When capital gains taxes have been raised in the past, federal revenues have fallen because people will hold on to investments rather than get slapped with a higher tax. When the tax has been cut, revenues rose as investors sold equities to seek better returns on their investments.

After Bill Clinton signed a GOP capital gains tax cut in 1997, capgains tax revenues soared from $62 billion to $110 billion, capital investment in the economy climbed, and the economy took off in a high- tech-led expansion.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky called the Democrats' vote "a purely political exercise" and "a total waste of time."

In his floor remarks, McConnell remembers that Senate Democrats were singing different tune about the Bush tax cuts in 2010. He recalled Vice President Biden, who was sitting in the chair during Wednesday's vote in case he had to break a tie, came to him near the end of 2010 to help extend all of the tax cuts, even the top two tax rates Obama says he now opposes.

Back then, the Republicans had taken control of the House, picked up six seats in the Senate, and the Obama economy was in a nosedive. A beaten president bought into the GOP's plan to keep all the tax rates right where they were for two more years.

But what's changed since then? The jobless economy is in a steeper decline, the middle class is struggling more than ever, and poverty is rising.

"The U.S. economy is teetering on the brink of another recession," says University of Maryland Business School economist Peter Morici. "Get ready for a bad ride."

The tax hikes the Senate just passed are going nowhere in the House where Republicans plan to vote next week to extend all the Bush tax cuts for another year.

But half a dozen very vulnerable Senate Democrats are going to pay a political price for this vote when they face the voters in November, as will Obama.

The Gallup Poll reported Thursday that business owners are "now among the least approving of Obama", falling to 36 percent in the second quarter.

The Republican war cry this fall will be "Americans have been taxed enough."


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.