- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Even though they failed to create jobs, stimulate the economy or make health care affordable, President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi want a raise.

Based on their recent voting record, it could be a $3.8 trillion raise.

That’s how much new money Washington will take from American workers and families over the next decade if all the Democratic tax increases are enacted next year. And despite being in control of Congress since 2007, Democrats have done nothing to stop any part of this tax explosion. Rather than admit they want to give the government a raise, the Democrats claim the government “can’t afford” to keep taxes low. The truth is that Americans can’t afford the European-style, socialist government the Democrats want to create.

After voting four times a few weeks ago to raise taxes on every American taxpayer, Democrats are facing the wrath of voters and scrambling to hide their record. Democrats claim they only want businesses and upper-income taxpayers to pay for their raise, but Americans have caught on to this class warfare, and they know every new tax on employers means more jobs will disappear.

Most people get raises for jobs well done. The Democrats want a tax raise because they haven’t done their jobs. Instead of working to reduce the national debt, they’ve added trillions to it. To pay it down, they prefer to take another cut from Americans’ paychecks rather than cut government spending.

This is how Washington thrives at America’s expense. Remember how self-serving members of Congress got every pork-barrel project they ever wished for in Mr. Obama’s $787 billion stimulus bill? That bill produced thousands of earmarks, but not jobs. The Obama administration and the Democratic Congress haven’t solved any of the problems that led to the financial collapse. They’ve used the economic meltdown as an excuse to steer tax dollars to political allies, donors and pet projects with their bailouts and takeovers.

Such me-first thinking by people who, in the words of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, didn’t want to “let a serious crisis to go waste” plunged the economic crisis that began in 2008 into a deep, long-lasting recession. Increasing taxes now would be like tying an anchor around the flailing economy’s neck.

Many economists, such as Art Laffer, Peter Morici and Mark Zandi, fear Mr. Obama’s new taxes will make it much harder for the economy to recover.

Therefore, stopping the next recession must start with stopping the Obama tax increases. It’s been a known fact for years that if Congress takes no action, taxes on personal income, capital gains, dividends and business will automatically go up on Jan. 1. Yet Senate Democrats have done nothing to shield struggling American families and businesses from these tax increases. And they’ve had many chances to do so. Before the Senate broke for summer recess, I forced four separate votes to extend the current tax rates. Many Democrats have said they would not support keeping all taxes low, so the votes were broken up individually. That way, Democrats could show which tax rates they would support extending. But they rejected every single one.

Specifically, I offered an amendment on June 23 to extend the current tax rate on capital gains and dividends. The Democrats voted it down 57-40, opting to raise taxes on seniors and investors who pay those taxes. On July 21, I offered an amendment to repeal the death tax. The Democrats voted it down 59-39, choosing to let the government confiscate up to 55 percent of a person’s assets upon death. On Aug. 5, I offered two amendments. The first would have stopped all of the January tax increases on personal income. The Democrats voted it down 58-42. My second amendment would have blocked tax increases on small businesses that file as individuals. Again, the Democrats voted it down, 58-42.

According to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal, an individual in South Carolina making $40,000 next year will pay about $400 more in federal income taxes when the increases go into effect. A South Carolina married couple earning a combined $80,000 will see their federal income tax rise by nearly $2,200. A married couple earning $160,000 next year could pay an additional $5,500.

If Democrats weren’t willing to stop any of these tax increases in June, July or August, why would they be willing to do so in September? You’d have to be naive to believe Mr. Reid and Mrs. Pelosi plan to debate the best way to keep taxes low when Congress returns from summer recess. The only thing they want to talk about is by how much they’ll raise taxes next year.

And where will this money be going? Congress can’t keep track of the new programs being created. The Congressional Research Service recently reported it would be “impossible” to tally the number of new agencies, boards and commissions created under Obamacare. After passage of the Barney Frank-Chris Dodd financial regulation bill, Connecticut Democrat Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, one of the bill’s authors, said, “No one will know until this is actually in place how it works.”

People who vote for incomprehensible bills shouldn’t be given another $3.8 trillion to waste on their bad ideas. Increasing taxes will only fuel their out-of-control, big-government agendas.

Those who say we “can’t afford” current tax rates care more about pumping up government programs than the prosperity of the American people. Citizen entrepreneurs, small-business owners and workers should not be forced to cut back on their plans in order to fund more spending programs dreamed up by Washington politicians and bureaucrats.

Spending is the problem, so cutting spending should be the solution. If there’s anything that’s unaffordable, it’s the policies of Mr. Obama, Mr. Reid and Mrs. Pelosi. Given the high unemployment rate and record levels of debt and deficits, they certainly don’t deserve a raise.

Sen. Jim DeMint is a member of the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress.