If you boil down President Obama’s fatally foolish scheme to fix the economic mess he’s put us in, it comes down to raising taxes on everybody.
His tax plan would hit struggling small businesses, the largest job creators in the country; investment capital that is the mother’s milk of a prosperous economy; and millions of ordinary middle-class Americans — because businesses pass their costs on to the consumer.
Mr. Obama has spent most of the past four years trying to raise taxes on all of us, an obsessive far-left crusade that’s been blocked at almost every turn by the Republicans in Congress. However, depending upon what happens in the 2012 election, he could raise everyone’s taxes at the end of the year by doing nothing. That’s when President George W. Bush’s low-, middle- and upper-income tax cuts are due to expire if they are not extended or made permanent in law.
Mitt Romney, just like former President Bill Clinton, wants them extended until Congress has a chance to cleanse a job-killing, loophole-ridden, inefficient tax code to bring in a lot more revenue while reducing the tax rates to get this economy growing again. That is the very plan Mr. Obama’s deficit-cutting commission recommended, but he shelved it and has ridiculed it ever since.
If Mr. Obama is re-elected to a second term, the White House says he will veto any bill to preserve the Bush tax cuts in a weakening economy. That would raise the top income tax rate to nearly 40 percent, which would further weaken a chronically sluggish, subpar economy. What it means is simply this:
The 10 percent tax rate for low-income earners would revert to 15 percent. The 25 percent tax rate would rise to 28 percent. The 28 percent rate would jump to 36 percent, and the 35 percent top rate would leap to 39.6 percent.
That’s not all. The marriage-penalty correction on two-earner couples would expire, too, pushing their tax bill up to the point where each would pay a lot less if they were single filers.
The per-child tax credit Mr. Bush doubled would fall from $1,000 to $500, and the 15 percent federal tax rate on dividends and short- and long-term capital gains would rise at least to 20 percent and possibly higher under the president’s proposed investment tax surcharge on wealthy Americans.
Mr. Obama’s radical class-warfare crusade to raise capital gains and dividend tax rates on investors would hurt not only our economy but also millions of ordinary retirees who live off the income from stock and capital gains dividends built up over their working career.
Republicans blocked Mr. Obama’s anti-growth tax increases in the House and Senate, but he’s still trying to raise them and other taxes, too.
Now he’s campaigning for his gimmicky “Buffett rule,” which would impose a 30 percent surcharge on millionaires and billionaires. He says it is needed to reduce the deficit, but the $47 billion it would raise over 10 years wouldn’t make so much as a dent in the gargantuan, $1 trillion-plus annual deficits he has run up over his four-year term.
There have been just 4.6 million households with net assets of $1 million or more during the past decade. Many are small-business owners who can hardly be called wealthy, according to the Consumer Federation of America.
The 403 billionaires identified by Forbes magazine wouldn’t even fill a small high school auditorium.
Mr. Obama’s real intention is to squeeze more money out of a weakened economy to raise spending for more social programs and dramatically enlarge the size of the federal government. “The Buffett rule is really nothing more than a sneaky way for Mr. Obama to justify doubling the capital gains and dividend rate to 30 percent from 15 percent today,” the Wall Street Journal editorialized. “The problem is that this is a tax on capital that is needed for firms to grow and hire more workers. Mr. Obama says he wants an investment-led recovery, not one led by consumption, but how will investment be spurred by doubling the tax on it?”
Meantime, Mr. Obama has not given up on his plan to raise taxes on incomes over $200,000 for single taxpayers and $250,000 for working married couples. Even when his job-approval polls sank into the 40s this summer, after months of puny job numbers and when the economy was at a standstill, he proposed raising the two top tax rates again.
This is the warmed-over plan that was rebuffed in Congress even when Democrats were in the majority in the firm belief that it made no sense to raise anyone’s taxes in a weak economy. Mr. Obama himself acknowledged this at the end of 2010 when he reluctantly agreed to extend all of the Bush tax-cut rates for another two years.
If Mr. Obama is re-elected to a second term and the Democrats make gains in Congress, he’s certain to push again for higher taxes. That’s what his politically divisive, class-warfare, spread-the-wealth, “fair share” campaign is really all about.
It is virtually impossible to overstate how much the U.S. economy has declined under Mr. Obama’s anti-growth, anti-job policies during the past four years. He inherited a deep hole, but he has dug us into a deeper one.
Since 2009, out-of-control deficit spending has added more than $5 trillion to an unprecedented national debt that has soared above $16 trillion.
Our feeble economy is growing at a snail’s pace of 1.7 percent a year; full-time jobs are in short supply; business investment has stalled; median incomes are down sharply; wages are flat; home prices have not recovered; and mortgage foreclosures are still at frightening levels.
More than 24 million people are unemployed or underemployed or have stopped looking for work. Gas prices are crushing family and small-business budgets. Poverty is at the highest level in 50 years.
A record number of U.S. households, affecting 50 million Americans, faced hunger last year and were forced to cut back on meals, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Despite Mr. Obama’s Orwellian campaign slogan, we aren’t moving “forward.” We’re falling further behind and going in the wrong direction. It’s not going to change until he leaves office.
Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and former chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.