For months, President Obama has been campaigning around our country calling for the passage of his "Buffett rule," which would raise taxes on those he deems to be "superrich." This new tax, Mr. Obama claims, would establish a "basic principle of fairness [that], if applied to our tax code, could raise enough money" to "stabilize our deficit and debt for the next decade." Unfortunately, the math proves it won't. The Buffett rule would raise about $46 billion over 10 years, or about $4 billion per year. The government spends more than $4 billion in one day.
But while people on both sides of the argument understand that the Buffett rule is little more than a campaign gimmick, it is not the president's only push for higher taxes.
Every day, headlines from Europe illustrate what awaits the United States if we do not get control of our national debt. But so far, the president has failed to propose any comprehensive plan for deficit reduction. In fact, Mr. Obama's own budget proposal failed to earn a single vote from either party in the House or the Senate.
In order for the president to pay for the level of government spending outlined in his budget, it either would require us to borrow an extraordinary amount of money or would take an enormous tax increase on all Americans. Clearly, the majority of congressional Democrats and Republicans alike are opposed to both of these actions.
One assumes the president does not want to leave office as the man who pushed the United States into Greece-like default and economic collapse. So what strategy are he and his advisers following? To understand the president's motives, we must recall some recent history.
Mr. Obama repeatedly called for higher taxes on individuals earning more than $250,000 per year and married couples in which both spouses earn an average of $125,000 or more, though he often refers to them as "millionaires." But because this policy attracts opposition even from some liberal Democrats who represent areas with high living costs, there is no chance of it passing Congress.
If nothing is done by New Year's Day, however, the current federal tax rates on just about every category of income will go up automatically. News reports have labeled this event "Taxmageddon" for the massive danger it poses to our economy.
Keeping in mind the huge across-the-board tax increases needed to pay for his spending plan, Mr. Obama's real strategy now becomes clear. Taxmageddon is on autopilot, so it happens unless Congress and the president all agree to stop it. If Mr. Obama refuses to embrace bipartisan solutions from Congress to avoid Taxmageddon, it will result in a gridlock that could result in tax increases on all of us to the tune of $3.2 trillion over the next 10 years.
The 10 percent income tax rate on low-income Americans will double, and the return of the marriage penalty will push couples earning more than $59,000 into the 25 percent bracket. Married couples will get a smaller standard deduction than two single filers, and the child tax credit will shrink by half. It all adds up to a $2,165 tax increase for a family of four earning $65,000.
Higher taxes on job creators will slow our recovery by diverting money from private-sector investments to government programs. Tax increases on middle-class and lower-income families will put the squeeze on millions of people struggling to make ends meet. For many families, it could be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Even former President Bill Clinton recently called for a full extension of these tax cuts.
Mr. Obama knows that openly rooting for Taxmageddon would be political suicide. But because he will not support serious spending cuts, he has no other way of dealing with the looming disaster that is our national debt.
Next time you hear President Obama taking shots at "millionaires and billionaires," remember that his real plan is to leave you with a lot less money in your pocket.
Rep. Scott DesJarlais is a Tennessee Republican.
By Elaine Donnelly
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