Donald Lambro
President Obama often boils down the issues around his plan to raise income taxes by saying it's all about the "math," a subject he doesn't seem to know much about.

No doubt the White House would argue the point, but the uncomfortable fact remains that after four years in office, the unemployment rate remains painfully high and economic growth is slowing down. Clearly, the president's math isn't working well, and neither are 23 million Americans who want full-time jobs.

But even a cursory analysis of the mathematical issues at the center of the battle over the "fiscal cliff" raises some fundamental numbers Obama doesn't acknowledge.

One has to do with the political makeup of the House of Representatives, the other with the dreary growth rate of the recession-leaning Obama economy.

The immovable mathematical reality in the House is that Republicans control it by a pretty decisive margin: 241 to 191, with two vacancies to be decided.

In the early jockeying over a compromise to break the impasse, the numbers suggest Obama's proposal doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell in what the Founding Fathers called the people's chamber.

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio has repeatedly told the president his plan to raise the 28 percent income tax rate to 36 percent and the 35 percent top rate to 39.6 percent "cannot pass the House."

Obama has convinced a majority of the voters that the GOP irrationally refuses to raise taxes on people who earn more than $200,000 in order to protect wealthy Americans.

But for Republicans, this isn't about class or protecting the rich (the top 25 percent of income earners already pay 87.3 percent of all income taxes), and it isn't about politics. It is all about growth economics -- something Obama and the national news media in general do not understand.

Lower tax rates in general result in stronger economic growth, increased investment, more business formation and more job opportunities. That results in tax revenue growth and reduces the deficits.

That's what happened under the Kennedy tax cuts in the 1960s, the Reagan tax cuts in the 1980s, and even in Bill Clinton's second term when the economy took off after he cut the capital gains tax rate, fueling the high-tech job boom.

The bitter political polarization that is self-evident in this battle is one we've fought many times in our history. Obama's retro-economic ideology comes right out of the Great Depression and the New Deal of the 1930s: higher taxes and government spending for public works jobs.

But it didn't work then, and it's not working now.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.