One might have thought the campaign season was over, but in fact a new campaign is beginning. This was made clear with the president's trip to what was billed as a "middle class family home" to talk fiscal cliff and tax policy.
The president is now campaigning for his transformative agenda and he sees the middle class as useful pawns. The real question is: When will the middle class see that they are being had?
Selected for the president’s half-hour excursion into the exotic world of the middle class family life was the Santana family of Falls Church, Va. The president knew this wasn’t just any middle class family; they are reliable class warriors, as one family member had just taken part in the president’s #My2kTwitter campaign to soak “the rich.”
“They have dreams and ambitions, they have a beautiful six year old son Noah. They’re keeping it together, they’re working hard, they’re meeting their responsibilities,” the president reportedly said of the Santana family.
So what does President Obama propose to do to help the Santanas with their ambitions and dreams?
A tax hike on the top 2 percent of earners.
Yep, that is what our president wants to do for the middle class. Unless you’re eaten up with envy, punitive taxes on somebody else—specifically the segment of the population that hires and spends—is a lump of coal in your Christmas stocking.
President Obama, who could take actions to prevent taxes from rising on the rest of us this afternoon, instead holds the us all hostage during his quest of his own particular holy grail: higher marginal tax rates for “the rich.” This will bring in enough money to run the government for a few days and likely stall job creation in the process. How is that good news for the Santanas?
President Obama made it clear that helping the middle class, or even the economy, isn’t the goal of his tax plan. In 2008, Obama explained to ABC’s Charles Gibson that he wants to raise taxes on the top earners even if this leads, as it ironically is likely to, to smaller tax revenues for the U.S. Treasury. He has since acknowledged that tax hikes on those with high incomes are bad for job creation. I doubt he explained that to the Santanas, or that his sticking-it-to-the-rich plan is just to satisfy his own ideological needs.
But a little of this middle class thingy goes a long way for President Obama. Having done his champion of the middle class act for half an hour, the president climbed into his car and was ferried via motorcade back to the house of the 54 Christmas trees. One thing you can say about the president and his wife: they have made it abundantly clear that they don’t care to live like the middle class. Their Hawaiian vacation alone this year will cost the American taxpayer around $4 million. The president’s inauguration will cost around $100million. The press carped when George W. Bush spent $40 million on his second inauguration–and they were right. It was too much.
The U.S. taxpayer spends $1.4 billion dollars a year keeping the Obama family in a style to which they became accustomed when he became president.
I’m reading a biography of King Edward IV. It was in his reign that the court system (as in courtiers, not the Supremes) was beginning to take shape. I had a shock of recognition: Is something similar developing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? But even Edward IV didn’t have 54 Christmas trees and his own full-time movie projectionist.
This is a situation fraught with irony: We have a hero of the middle class who lives in a manner that is far divorced from his fellow citizens and who advances policies that he knows won’t really help anyone.
Yet somehow the Democrats remain the champions of the everyday average Joes and the downtrodden, as anybody who takes taxis and is crazy enough to engage in political discussions with total strangers knows. I’ve ridden with many conservative cabbies who know that they work hard at an often dangerous job and only want the freedom to do well. But most of my cabbie pals can spout Democratic talking points with alarming accuracy. The Democrats have penetrated popular thinking.
The Republicans, to their discredit, have not. Republicans make their arguments in generalities—we need “prosperity” and “job creation.” Sorry, but an Obamaphone speaks louder. It shouldn’t be so difficult to let the middleclass (I hate breaking us all down into classes!) in on what the president is doing.
Why hasn’t John Boehner paid a visit to an American family whose taxes are going up and whose jobs are in jeopardy because of rising employment costs? This is one time I could see Mr. Boehner shedding productive tears. The GOP has a good argument: Overtaxing the rich is a form of cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. It will make recovery even slower.
It is also time to make the lavish presidential lifestyle an issue. This didn’t start with the Obamas, but they have raised it to a new level. We want our first families to live with dignity and ceremony. But never before in the history of our republic has a first family lived such gilded lives. The president who has such contempt for those who make money is sticking us with a huge bill for lavish living few could afford on their own. It’s time to talk about all this out in the open.
Mr. Boehner, I’m brewing a nice pot of tea, and I expect you and the TV cameras at my place.
Charlotte Hays is director of cultural programs at the Independent Women’s Forum.