Drop the nonsense about not raising taxes, Obama

Obama’s position on taxes morphed during the campaign. What began as a plan to roll back the top tier of Bush tax cuts had hardened, by the end of the primaries, into a read-my-lips pledge not to raise taxes on those making less than the magical $250,000 number. Circumstances have since changed. The cratering economy required an enormous infusion of stimulus spending, adding to the staggering debt.

Rather than readjusting his stance, Obama set it in concrete. The president could have made this a teachable moment about how the need to spend now would require sacrifice down the road. Instead — with Gibbs’s briefing the latest such example — Obama has boxed himself in. It’s hard to see, at this point, how he wriggles out. Gibbs was doing damage control following remarks by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers…

Obama wants a government that is bigger than the revenue it generates, but he is unwilling to acknowledge the implications of that stance. It is politically easier to pretend that the entire problem can be solved on the backs of corporations and wealthy individuals. I’m all for a tax code that is heavily progressive and free of loopholes, but the arithmetic won’t allow all the balancing to be done on a sliver of the population.

These are comments that Obama should have let stand — if he had the political courage. Instead, the president who launched his campaign bemoaning “our chronic avoidance of tough decisions” chose to send his press secretary to clean up after economic advisers who dared to whisper hard truths.