Let's set the scene for all this. 2012's Barack Obama is demanding that Congress raise taxes on "the rich." That's nothing new; it's been his default position since...well, forever, really. But 2010's Barack Obama agreed to delay his tax increase dreams for reasons he explained at the time:
"I am just listening to the consensus among people who know the economy best. And what they will say is that if you either increased taxes or significantly lowered spending when the economy remains somewhat fragile, that that would have a destimulative effect and potentially you'd see a lot of folks losing business, more folks potentially losing jobs. That would be a mistake when the economy has not fully taken off."
Today, the president is calling for precisely the hikes that he rejected two years ago. Does he now believe the economy has "fully taken off"? Is he currently of the opinion that the economy is no longer "somewhat fragile"? If so, on what possible basis has he reached these conclusions? If not, why is he willing to place a "destimulative" and distorted vision of tax "fairness"ahead of "businesses...and jobs"? He can't answer these questions honestly. Senate Democrats don't even want him to try; Harry Reid is blocking votes on Obama's tax plan as his caucus fractures over the issue. One reason some elected Democrats may have heartburn over Obama's tax hike proposals? They're unpopular among virtually every single demographic group imaginable:
A majority of Americans want the Bush tax cuts extended for everyone, despite a strong push by President Barack Obama to eliminate them on higher incomes, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll. The poll found 52 percent of registered voters saying they want all the tax cuts extended, including the tax cuts for incomes above $250,000, while 43 percent want the cuts extended just for incomes below that threshhold. Some of the strongest support for extending all of the tax cuts came from some of Obama’s most reliable supporters, such as young voters, minorities and the poor and working class. Young voters ages 18-29 favored tax cuts for everyone by a margin of 69-29, the largest margin of any age group. Latinos favored tax cuts for all incomes by 62 percent to 36 percent. Whites supported tax cuts for every income by 50 percent to 44 percent. African-Americans split, 48 percent for limiting the tax cuts to incomes below $250,000 and 47 percent for extending them to all incomes. And those making less than $50,000 supported tax cuts for all incomes by 53 percent to 41 percent.
It looks like Obama's anti-jobs tax ideas aren't just abysmal economics, they're also dreadful politics. As Ed Morrissey notes, this poll had an unserious D+7 sample, yet still showed that voters of all stripes overwhelmingly understand that raising taxes on job creators and successful small businesses when the nation is desperate for jobs is foolishness of the highest order. According to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, Obama's proposal would raise taxes on nearly 1 million small businesses, and would impact 53 percent of American small business income. And this would create jobs how, Mr President? I'll wait. In this case, the lure of class warfare -- Democrats' bread and butter -- is preempted by self-interest and common sense. As we've discussed before, Obama is deeply out of touch with most Americans' sense of tax fairness:
Three-quarters of likely voters believe the nation’s top earners should pay lower, not higher, tax rates, according to a new poll for The Hill. The big majority opted for a lower tax bill when asked to choose specific rates; precisely 75 percent said the right level for top earners was 30 percent or below. The current rate for top earners is 35 percent. Only 4 percent thought it was appropriate to take 40 percent, which is approximately the level that President Obama is seeking from January 2013 onward.
Obama says that we should return to the Clinton tax rates, arguing that the American economy thrived under those rates. Ignoring the various fallacies of this argument (the tech bubble, bipartisan balanced budgets, the growing housing bubble, etc) for a moment, allow me to propose a deal: We'll agree to return to the Clinton tax rates if Obama agrees to return to the Clinton spending rates. How much money did President Clinton's final budget propose to spend?
The President said his $1.77 trillion plan would insure the solvency of Social Security and Medicare for decades while paying for billions of dollars in programs for schools, cities, families, the environment and the military. Before the black ink could dry on Mr. Clinton's budget submission, Republican leaders in Congress complained that the President was shortchanging taxpayers by devoting billions in surplus Government revenues to new programs rather than tax cuts. Republican leaders signaled a willingness to work with Mr. Clinton to reserve nearly two-thirds of future surpluses to strengthen Social Security. But there agreement ends, as the budget debate in Washington shifts from dealing with deficits to allocating surpluses.
That was Clinton's 2000 budget blueprint. $1.77 Trillion in outlays. A mere 12 years later, Barack Obama's proposed budget would spend $3.8 Trillion next year and nearly $6 Trillion by the end of the decade, would never balance, and would explode the gross national debt by roughly $11 trillion. Thank goodness it was unanimously rejected. Obama's tax increases would not go to fix any of this. In fact, his budget already includes these tax hikes. The increased revenues from successful small businesses and families would be used to fuel additional federal spending. If you don't believe me, re-read the first three sentences of this paragraph. But hey, maybe Obama can convince us that his tax-and-spend-to-oblivion agenda really is beneficial by telling better stories, or something.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography