Obama’s message on his two-day bus tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania has been twofold. First, he pointed to modest signs of progress in rebuilding the economy–the health of the auto industry is his principal case study across Ohio’s northern tier. At the same time, he warned that the medicine offered by Romney and the Republicans is exactly the wrong prescription.
As he said here Friday morning, “We tried it, and didn’t work.”
But it has become increasingly difficult for the president to argue that what he has tried is working well, or that he has something new to offer. Each month that the economy produces fewer jobs than are needed just to keep pace with population growth adds to the burden the president faces as the clock ticks toward November.
As if to prove that very point, the White House plans to announce today that Obama will propose a “new” policy — to raise taxes on everyone making $250,000 a year or more, just as he did in 2010 and 2011:
President Obama on Monday will propose a one-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for people earning less than $250,000, his latest election-year effort to appeal to middle-class voters.
The president will make the announcement during an 11:50 a.m. East Room event, joined by families and workers who would benefit from the initiative, White House officials said.
The move is likely to set up another standoff with Republicans in Congress, who support extending the tax cuts permanently for all income levels, not just those earning less than $250,000 per year.
But the White House is calculating that forcing the GOP to reject the president’s proposal would put Republican lawmakers in a difficult position at a time when many Americans are struggling in a tough economy.
This is so unserious it almost descends into parody. Even Democrats in the Senate last year didn’t bother to push the $250,000 cutoff that Obama proposed while he was in the midst of his Occupy fervor. They ended up bumping the limit to a million dollars — and still didn’t get it through Congress. Chuck Schumer complained with some justification that $250K in his state was a middle-class income.
Meanwhile, the Champion of the Middle Class proposes to exchange the tax hike on people making $250K for … what? A one-year extension of the Bush-era tax rates for people earning below that level. That’s actually a worse deal than Obama proposed in 2010 and 2011. In fact, it’s a worse deal than the two-year extension on all tax rates Republicans won after Democrats got skunked in the 2010 midterms.
A one-year extension won’t convince middle-class earners to invest their money or take more risks. All it will do is confirm that Obama plans to hike taxes on the middle class in a second term. If not, why propose a one-year extension rather than proposing making the Bush-era rates on those earners permanent?
Obama is indeed out of ideas. Now he’s giving us reruns of his greatest … misses.