Obama: I Like Taxes, Except When I Don't

The Los Angeles Times notes the love affair between Barack Obama and taxes continues unabated. In an interview with CNBC in New York last night, Obama promised to eliminate the Bush tax cuts and hike taxes on those making as little as $75,000 per year. When challenged about raising taxes during an economic slowdown, he almost immediately backpedaled:

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama went after the “We’re not paying enough taxes to the government” vote today during a television interview in New York.

First, he said the Bush tax cuts ought to die. He likes that top marginal rate of 39%. Although the non-partisan National Journal recently declared him the most liberal of the 100 senators, Obama denied being a “wild-eyed liberal,” which wasn’t what the Journal called him, but it sounds good on TV where everything moves by so quickly.

Maria Bartiromo on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” asked, “Who should pay more and who should pay less?” Predictably, the politician chose to talk about who would benefit from his higher tax plan, not who would get socked the hardest. But from his answers it sounds like the “wealthy” in his mind are those making more than $75,000.

“I would not increase taxes for middle class Americans and in fact I want to…. provide a tax cut for people who are making $75,000 a year or less,” he said. “For those folks, I want an offset on the payroll tax that would be worth as much as $1,000 for a family.


Bartiromo asked him why he thinks raising taxes in a slowing economy would be a good thing. After all, the Democrats plan to argue economics as the biggest issue this fall, blaming the Bush administration policies for a housing crisis that has investors already pulling back to safety positions. Hiking taxes in that environment would shrink investment capital even further, creating more momentum for recession. What was Obama’s response?

“Well, look,” said Obama, “there’s no doubt that anything I do is going to be premised on what the economic situation is when I take office.”

Well, no doubt, but that doesn’t address the disconnect between Democratic rhetoric on the economy and Obama’s plan to raise taxes. They predict that the current economic policies will lead to recession. In fact, Paul Begala giggled when he called John McCain a cross between George Bush and Herbert Hoover on CNN Wednesday evening, just before my own appearance on Election Center. If that’s the case, shouldn’t Obama offer plans to deal with the recession he and his party insists will come, rather than offer the equivalent of Smoot-Hawley plans that will exacerbate it?

Obama wants it both ways. He wants the Left to believe that he will start pulling more money out of the economy for a big slate of government programs, while he wants the middle class to believe that all of these programs won’t cost them anything — and meanwhile, his options remain “open”. It sounds more like “I’m making this up as I go along.”