One thing we are beginning to know about President Obama: he will never change.
He may have raced up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Saturday, taking credit for a “historic” deal to keep the government open that went against his grain. But that’s politics–his ideology doesn’t shift. Now that budget cutting is all the rage, the president is going to put forth a plan. Guess what it contains?
“Obama Puts Taxes on Table” says the Wall Street Journal headline. In other words, same old, same old with a little window dressing:
President Barack Obama will lay out his plan for reducing the nation’s deficit Wednesday, belatedly entering a fight over the nation’s long-term financial future. But in addition to suggesting cuts-the current focus of debate-the White House looks set to aim its firepower on a more divisive topic: taxes.
In a speech Wednesday, Mr. Obama will propose cuts to entitlement programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, and changes to Social Security, a discussion he has largely left to Democrats and Republicans in Congress. He also will call for tax increases for people making over $250,000 a year, a proposal contained in his 2012 budget, and changing parts of the tax
There are a number of-ahem-problems with the president’s unchanging mantra about taxing the rich. Rep. Paul Ryan has noted that our financial woes are not because of inadequate revenue but because we spend too much. Small cuts such as what the president is likely to offer do very little to avert looming financial disaster-with or without soaking the rich. The second problem is that overtaxing the rich is simply a prelude to raising taxes on everybody.
May I offer a few insights on taxing the rich?
I participated in teaching a class with a friend last week. The Tea Party came up several times and a man in the audience asked me, “Would you willingly pay more taxes if you earned above $250,000?” “No,” I said. “Well, what about if you were earning in the millions?” he countered. I gave the same answer. I wouldn’t want to pay more taxes at any level because: government wastes money, and if I were making that much money, it would belong to…me.
I am always surprised at the notion that somehow people should be willing to pay more taxes if they are making or have a lot of money. It’s in the air in our society. I think at root is some idea that, if you have money, you’ve exploited somebody. Even more troubling, is the notion that you don’t really own your property. Government shouldn’t let you keep so much of these ill-gotten gains that don’t really belong to you. But I think, as the GOP makes its case, and as taxes hurt all of us, these ideas are beginning to change.