- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 19, 2012

Whose job would you want to have? Would it be President Obama’s or Gov. Chris Christie’s in the great state of New Jersey? Would it be President Obama‘s, whose budget woes are getting graver, or would it be Mr. Christie‘s, whose budget is at least looking to be survivable?

Mr. Obama is facing a choice in his budgetary decisions. Does he raise taxes only on families making $1 million a year, or does he, as he has heretofore promised, raise taxes on families making $250,000? Mr. Christie has had an easier choice. He has promised a 10 percent cut on every New Jerseyite’s income tax bill. He has “stopped the bleeding” in New Jersey. He has cut 375 government programs. He has capped property taxes. He has confronted public employees with reasonable cuts in their bloated health care and pension benefits. It is all part of what he terms “the New Jersey comeback.” New Jersey’s budget was a kind of Ponzi scheme when he came to office, and time was running out. Now he has the budget back on track, and it is time for a tax cut for everyone.

Interestingly, his Democratic opponents in the state legislature say the cut amounts to a pittance. It means a mere $275 for families earning $100,000. Their alternative is a tax increase, but only on millionaires. My guess is that a good number of New Jerseyites will see through this. The Democrats began their binge by raising taxes on the very rich. There was not enough money to pay for their munificence by taxing the very rich. So the Democrats worked their way down to the middle class, and the result was the economic basket case from which Mr. Christie is freeing all New Jerseyites.

President Obama has to make his decision by early next month when he decides on his budget: raise taxes on everyone making more than $250,000 a year or only on millionaires? Of course, in 2010, he took a dreadful drubbing at the polls on taxes, and it could happen again. Some Democrats have agreed with the Republicans. They say people making $200,000 to $250,000 are not making that much money, particularly if you live in a place like New York.

New York’s Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer has seen the light. He has said of people with such incomes, “They are not rich, and in large parts of the country, that kind of income does not get you a big home or lots of vacation or anything else that’s associated with wealth in America.” And he went on: “They are firmly in the middle class. Same with small-business owners in that class.”

What will our president do? I say he will include families making $250,000 in his tax hikes. Moreover, if re-elected, he will increase taxes on the middle class. President Obama is a redistributionist. He believes more ardently in redistributing wealth than in creating it. Follow the course of earlier redistributionist Franklin D. Roosevelt, and you will know the direction in which Mr. Obama is going. In the current issue of the American Spectator, Burton W. Folsom Jr. and Anita Folsom write that FDR “lamented” in the late 1940s, “Too many people are earning money and not contributing to the government.” Thus, he and his New Dealers got to work raising taxes. From “1940 to 1942, the number of Americans paying income taxes jumped almost tenfold, from 4 million to 39 million. Furthermore, the starting tax rate skyrocketed from 4 percent to almost 24 percent.” No wonder FDR is one of Mr. Obama’s heroes.

Yet Mr. Obama is a reactionary. He believes in the past, a past of vast government control of the economy, redistribution and slow growth. Mr. Christie and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin believe in growth. The future is theirs.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor-in-chief of the American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. His most recent book is “After the Hangover: The Conservatives’ Road to Recovery” (Thomas Nelson, 2010).