Now that he never has to run for election again, President Obama can show his true colors. Mr. Obama made it clear Wednesday he wants to whack Americans with $1.6 trillion in tax increases so that an obese Uncle Sam won’t have to go on a diet. The only thing that can slow down his sharp turn to the left is the House GOP.
“When it comes to the top 2 percent, what I’m not going to do is to extend further a tax cut for folks who don’t need it, which would cost close to a trillion dollars,” Mr. Obama said Wednesday in his first formal domestic news conference since June.
He insisted his re-election was a mandate for raising taxes on small businesses and investors, which he called his “guiding principle during these negotiations but, more importantly, during the next four years of my administration.” The president also declared that a “modest tax increase” would not “impinge on business investment.”
Rep. Dave Camp, chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, says that’s not true. “Every report we’ve seen — from employers to the Congressional Budget Office — points to job loss if the president’s proposed tax hike is allowed to take effect,” the Michigan Republican told The Washington Times Wednesday. “In this economy, where people are struggling to find work, how can Washington be in the business of destroying any job?”
While Mr. Obama claimed his tax increase would not affect 97 percent of businesses, he neglected to explain those it does hit earn a majority of U.S. small-business profits and thus have the largest impact on the economy. That’s why the accounting firm Ernst & Young reported that raising the top two income tax rates to as high as 39.6 percent would result in a $200 billion drop in output and a loss of 710,000 jobs.
Last week, House Speaker John A. Boehner offered Mr. Obama a compromise in which Republicans would help work for tax reform that closes special-interest loopholes to bring in more revenue in return for serious reform to the entitlement programs that are a major source of our fiscal problems.
To have any hope of winning concessions from the White House, Republicans need to wage a smarter public relations battle. Mr. Obama gets away with calling his plan to raise taxes without doing anything about spending a “balanced approach.” Extending existing tax rates is referred to as a “tax cut,” even though no one’s tax rates will go down.
Democrats are savvier in using “real people” as the face of their policies, rather than the cold statistics Republicans prefer. A Gallup poll Wednesday showed the Democratic tactic has been effective as the number of Americans who are open to deficit reduction that includes tax hikes has gone up from 43 percent in July 2011 to 56 percent today.
The president isn’t going to be beaten in this game unless Republicans adapt. For instance, invite the small-business owners who can’t withstand higher taxes without laying off employees to personally explain their plight before the camera. Now that Mr. Obama is a lame duck, it’s more important than ever that fiscal conservatives make their case in a more media-savvy manner. The future of our economy depends on it.
Emilly Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.