Members of Congress have much to ponder during their summer recess. What, with a plateful of unfinished business, polling numbers that put President Obama at his lowest approval ratings to date and growing angst over a lagging economy with more plans to spend our way out of it. No doubt most of the members, Republicans, Democrats and Blue Dogs alike will get an earful (some of them already are) from their constituents during planned town hall and listening tours for at least part of their time off. Democrats are notably disappointed to be sure. They had hoped to have a health care deal inked by the president’s arbitrarily unrealistic August deadline. They got part way there. But the pressure has been mounting over an unpopular idea (nationalized health care) presented to a skeptical and economically taxed public.
Now add to the mix the dreaded – promises made, promises not kept by President Obama – middle class tax hike. As if increasing taxes on the rich (who already pay more than their fare share of all income taxes) in the middle of a recession isn’t bad enough – it’s apparently dawned on the administration (but has consistently been shouted from rooftops by conservatives) that the rich alone can’t bear the full burden of a ballooning deficit made worse under the 10-year trillion dollar plan.
Fanning out to make the Sunday talk show rounds with a carefully crafted hint at what’s to come was the administration’s full economic team. ABC News host George Stephanopoulos queried Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner:
“The president has said that taxes won’t go up for Americans making under $250,000 but he can’t keep that promise if you’re going to bring the deficit down?”
Geithner: “We’re going to have to do what’s necessary.”
An unrepentant Larry Summers, the president’s economic advisor, echoed that sentiment in this exchange with CBS’ Bob Schieffer:
Schieffer: “No tax increase for middle income Americans?”
Summers: “There’s a lot that can happen over time… It’s never good idea to absolutely rule things out no matter what.”
No need to read between the lines. In Obama-speak “no new taxes” apparently means there will most certainly be new taxes. Just what form they will take is debatable but according to FOX News business analyst Stuart Varney it will likely be a “consumption tax” or “national sales tax” directly aimed at middle income earners. Yep you and me. Us regular folks. The administration smugly contends that the middle class should be grateful. Remember those tax cuts we just gave you? How about the economic stimulus that’s still stimulating. And you know you still have until tomorrow to trade in that old clunker in your garage for cash. Remember though what Mr. Hope and Change, who avoided any tax talk in his brief economic address on Friday, insisted during the presidential campaign just a mere 11 months ago?
“I pledge to you that under my plan, no one making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase.”
It looks as though campaign promises have taken a back seat to political expediency. That almost always has consequences. With the tax cat now out of the bag – on the the heels of the congressional summer recess no less – the administration better be prepared for a battle royal. Here’s to hoping that members of Congress headed back home take heed and sincerely listen to what their constituents want before arbitrarily deciding what they think they need.
-Tara Wall is a news anchor and political analyst at The Washington Times and editor of TheConservatives.com