Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- If you boil down President Obama's fatally foolish scheme to fix the economic mess he's put us in, it comes down to raising taxes on everybody.

His tax plans would hit struggling small businesses, the largest job-creator in our country; investment capital that is the mother's milk of a prosperous economy; and millions of ordinary middle class Americans -- because businesses pass their costs on to the consumer. Even the costs of Obamacare.

Obama has spent most of the past four years trying to raise taxes on all of us, an obsessive far-left crusade that's been blocked at almost every turn by the Republicans in Congress.

But depending upon what happens in the 2012 election, he could raise everyone's taxes at the end of the year by doing nothing. That's when President George W. Bush's across-the-board income tax cuts are due to expire.

Mitt Romney, just like former President Bill Clinton, wants them extended until Congress has a chance to rework the job-killing, loophole-ridden, inefficient tax code in order to bring in more revenue while reducing tax rates. That's the very plan Obama's deficit-cutting commission recommended, too -- the one that he shelved and has ridiculed ever since.

But if Obama's re-elected to a second term, the White House says he will veto any bill to preserve the Bush tax cuts in a weakening economy. That would raise the top income tax rate to nearly 40 percent, which would further weaken a chronically sluggish, sub-par economy. What that means is simply this:

The 10 percent tax rate for low-income earners would revert to 15 percent. The 25 percent tax rate would rise to 28 percent. The 28 percent rate would jump to 36 percent. And the 35 percent top rate would leap to 39.6 percent.

But that's not all. The "marriage penalty" correction on two-earner couples would expire, too, pushing their tax bills up to the point where filing singly would be cheaper.

The per-child tax credit Bush doubled would fall from $1,000 to $500, and the 15 percent federal tax rate on dividends, short- and long-term capital gains would rise to at least 20 percent -- possibly higher under the president's proposed investment tax-surcharge on wealthy Americans.

Obama's radical, class-warfare crusade to raise capital gains and dividend tax rates on investors would not only hurt our economy, but also millions of ordinary retirees who live off the income from stock and capital gain dividends built up over their working careers.

Republicans blocked Obama's anti-growth tax hikes in the House and Senate, but he's still trying.

Now he is campaigning for the gimmicky "Buffett Rule" that would impose a 30 percent surcharge on millionaires and billionaires. He says it is needed to reduce the deficit, but the $47 billion it will raise over 10 years wouldn't even make so much as a dent in the gargantuan, $1 trillion-plus deficits that he's run up over his four-year term.

There were only 4.6 million households with net assets of $1 million or more in the last decade (many are small businesses with employees whose owners can hardly be called wealthy), according to the Consumer Federation of America.

And the 403 billionaires identified by Forbes Magazine wouldn't even fill a high school auditorium.

But Obama's real intention is to squeeze more money out of a weakened economy to raise spending for more social programs and dramatically enlarge the size of the federal government.

"The Buffett Rule is really nothing more than a sneaky way for Mr. Obama to justify doubling the capital gains and dividend rate to 30 percent from 15 percent today," the Wall Street Journal editorialized. "The problem is that this is a tax on capital that is needed for firms to grow and hire more workers. Mr. Obama says he wants an investment-led recovery, not one led by consumption, but how will investment be spurred by doubling the tax on it?"

Meantime, Obama has not given up on his plan to raise taxes on incomes over $200,000 for single taxpayers and $250,000 for working married couples. Even when his job approval numbers sank into the 40-percent range this summer, he again proposed raising the two top tax rates.

This is the warmed-over plan that was rebuffed in Congress, even when Democrats were in the majority, in the firm belief that it made no sense to raise anyone's taxes in a weak economy. Even Obama, at the end of 2010, acknowledged that when he reluctantly agreed to extend all of the Bush tax cuts for another two years.

But if he is re-elected and the Democrats make gains in Congress, he's certain to push again for higher taxes. That's what his politically divisive, class-warfare, spread-the-wealth "fair share" campaign is really all about.

It is virtually impossible to overstate how much the U.S. economy has declined under Obama's anti-growth, anti-job policies over the past four years. He inherited a deep hole, but he has dug us into a deeper one.

Since 2009, out-of-control deficit spending has added more than $5 trillion to an unprecedented national debt that has soared to more than $16 trillion. Our feeble economy is growing at a snail's pace of 1.7 percent a year, full-time jobs are in short-supply, business investment has stalled, median incomes are down sharply, wages are flat, home prices have still not recovered and mortgage foreclosures are still at frightening levels.

More than 24 million Americans are unemployed, underemployed or have stopped looking for work altogether. Gas prices are crushing family and small-business budgets. Poverty is at the highest level in 50 years.

A record number of U.S. households, affecting 50 million Americans, faced hunger last year and were forced to cut back on meals, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Despite Obama's Orwellian campaign slogan, we aren't moving forward. We're falling terribly behind and going in the wrong direction. And it's not going to change until he leaves office.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.