At times, one can only sit back and marvel at the fact that this man successfully marketed himself to the electorate as a pragmatist at heart and a would-be healer of sundry societal and political divisions. Barack Obama's background, associations and voting record (such as it existed at the time) clearly demonstrated that he'd lived his adult life as an entrenched ideologue -- the type of person of whom voters are typically suspicious. So he molded his message to elide and disguise his core character. He did so with the complicity of much of the media and has proceeded to allowed the mask to slip further and further as his presidency wears on. As the president prepares to address the nation in his first State of the Union Address since the midterms' landslide Republican victories, White House sources say he'll adopt a "defiant" posture:
President Barack Obama will strike a defiant tone for dealing with the new Republican-led Congress when he addresses Americans next week in his State of the Union speech, laying out areas for potential compromise but ceding little ground to his opponents. Obama's speech at 9 p.m. EST next Tuesday will be the clearest statement yet of his vision for his final two years in office, with both houses of Congress controlled by Republicans for the first time since he took power six years ago...But much like a White House meeting Obama held on Tuesday with congressional leaders, he is not expected to offer major concessions, in keeping with his pledge to act where he can on his own through executive actions and identify areas where the two sides can work together."
The GOP won a sweeping victory in November following a heated campaign in which Obama played a starring role...as the antagonist. The president has reacted to the people's decisive verdict by inaccurately suggesting that the election results don't reflect broader public sentiment, and by telling aides that he finally feels "liberated" to aggressively pursue the liberal agenda explicitly rejected by voters. So a combative national address is par for the course. Obama will reportedly roll out a series of tax increases on "the rich" in order to redistribute their wealth via tax credits and "free" programs for others. The president has raised taxes throughout his presidency (with Obamacare acting as a key vehicle); in 2013, he exploited the prospect of automatic and massive across-the-board increases to corner Republicans into agreeing to $600 billion in tax hikes on wealthy Americans as part of the fiscal cliff deal. Now he's coming back for more, hyping gimmicks such as the expansion of the death tax on certain families, as well as taxing college savings accounts. Americans for Tax Reform tabulates the total of this round of requested tax increases at $320 billion. The White House knows full well that these ideas stand zero chance of passage. Republicans didn't just get elected en masse to raise taxes and play along with Obama's cynical class warfare games -- which is precisely what they are:
Obama's tax proposals are almost always political. He famously argued in a 2008 debate that he would favor increasing capital gains taxes (another element of his "new" idea) even if it resulted in lower federal revenues. Why? "For purposes of fairness," he explained, tipping his hand as a devoted practitioner of the unadulterated, mindless politics of class envy. Skipping ahead to 2015, Obama sees his position as a win/win: He gets to preen as a righteous defender of working Americans, fully secure in the knowledge that his destructive policy prescriptions are dead on arrival in Congress. He'll therefore remain unencumbered by the negative economic ramifications of his bad ideas, while hungrily demagoguing his opposition as mean-spirited defenders of the affluent. Although Conn is correct that the public generally likes the idea of taxing Richy Rich to pay for stuff, most Americans oppose confiscatory tax rates on anyone. This 2012 survey, for instance, revealed that the overwhelming majority of voters believe the top tax rate for the highest earners should be 30 percent or lower. The top federal income tax rate is just shy of 40 percent. Furthermore, according to recent data, the top one percent of earners already pay more than one-third of all federal income taxes; the top ten percent of American taxpayers foot the bill for nearly 70 percent of all federal taxes. I'll leave you with Obama's revealing "fairness" stance referenced above. Keep this fact-allergic answer in mind as Obama lectures Republicans (again) about "fair shares" tomorrow night. Class warfare politics isn't a means to an end -- it's an end unto itself: