Taxing millionaires and billionaires is at the top of President Obama’s agenda. He plans to use money extracted from “the rich” to pay for his big government - but not until he’s used their cash to fuel his campaign. Mr. Obama is also all too willing to break bread with the vilified hedge-fund owner or raise a glass with the awful private-equity investor as long as their wallets are open to his billion-dollar quest for re-election. The public should see through this hypocrisy.
On Monday, Mr. Obama flew Air Force One to Manhattan for an evening of big-dollar fundraising with singer Jon Bon Jovi. Former President Bill Clinton warmed up the crowd at each event, the first of which was a $40,000 per-person reception at the home of billionaire Marc Lasry, founder of the Avenue Capital Group hedge fund.
Mr. Obama used to bash this profession with lines like, “Let’s ask hedge-fund managers to stop paying taxes that are lower on their rates than their secretaries.” His tone changes when he wants access to their deep pockets. This week, he thanked his hosts for being “great supporters and great friends.”
Next, the two Democratic presidents were whisked from 5th Avenue to the Grand Ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, where 500 people who could afford to plunk down $2,500 enjoyed a luxurious dinner surrounded by red velvet curtains, golden drapes and glittering chandeliers. Bon Jovi performed the apt “Living on a Prayer” and the more wishful “Here Comes the Sun.”
Mr. Obama didn’t mention his promise to raise taxes on everyone in the room at the end of the year, but he subtly told the assembled plutocrats how he planned to spend their money on another stimulus. “The agenda that we’ve put forward - which says let’s put people to work right now rebuilding our roads and our bridges and putting teachers back in the classroom to accelerate growth now at the same time as we couple it with long-term spending restraint - that’s a recipe that works.”
Mr. Obama’s trillion-dollar stimulus was supposed to lower unemployment, but it’s been stuck over 8 percent since it took effect. No matter, the president’s song and dance culminated with a concert modestly entitled “Barack on Broadway” at The New Amsterdam Theater.
Some 1,700 high-falutin’ Democrats paid up to $1,000 each to hear performances by Patti LuPone, James Earl Jones, Stockard Channing, Neil Patrick Harris and Angela Lansbury. Throughout the glitzy night, Mr. Obama’s teleprompter was wiped clean of his favorite phrases “millionaires and billionaires,” “it’s not fair” and the “Buffett Rule.”
This was just the latest stop in a chi-chi national fundraising tour that started last month with a $15 million evening at movie star George Clooney’s Los Angeles home. Next week, Air Force One will shuttle Mr. Obama back to the Big Apple for a dinner co-hosted by “Vogue” magazine editor-in-chief Anna Wintour at the home of “Sex and the City” actress Sarah Jessica Parker.
Mr. Obama pretends to be the voice of the 99 percent, but he feels most at home with the 1 percent. Voters aren’t likely to fall for the act. The struggling working and middle classes will look at the president’s actions, rather than his rhetoric, when they decide which lever to pull in November.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.