Today’s must-read is Robert Tracinski’s article headlined “What Obama’s 529 Grab Revealed” over at The Federalist. President Obama’s plan to tax people for actually saving to put their kids through college never had a chance of passing in a Republican controlled-Congress. It was such a suicidal proposal that even Rep. Nancy Pelosi opposed it. So why did he even bother?
Tracinski quotes Megan McArdle’s excellent article at Bloomberg View (“Uncle Sam Is Coming after Your Savings”), which argues that the Democrats simply need massive amounts of money to support their agenda and the savings of the middle class might be the last place they have to look.
That sounds about right, but Tracinski makes an even more disturbing and yet plausible case for why President Obama went after the 529 savings. It is that President Obama, who never has to run again and can be himself as never before, doesn’t really like the middle class:
And now, finally, he has shown us what he really thinks of the middle class. The most telling part about the 529 proposal is that it was coupled with a proposal for two free years of community college.
Working to get our kids ready for a four-year college—academically and financially—is what the middle class does. There is perhaps no activity that is more middle-class-ish than that. And you can see why: it’s our way of ensuring that the next generation stays in the middle class. We’re not well-off enough to give them multi-million-dollar inheritances, but we are well-off enough to give them an education that will qualify them for a white-collar job. So this is treated almost as a sacred obligation. But do that, and Obama thinks you should get taxed. On the other hand, if you put aside no money and send your kid for a community college education that will qualify him, at most, for high-end blue-collar work, Obama thinks you should get a subsidy.
Tracinski’s and McArdle’s takes on the 529 tax are not mutually exclusive.