Obama plays wingman for Biden's flailing economic agenda

AP Photo/Michael Sohn

Joe Biden’s economic agenda is in the balance this week as Democrats try to find a way to unite and pass his multi-trillion-dollar legislation. Whether it is the $1.2T infrastructure package that some Republicans are open to supporting or the gigantic $3.5T social spending and climate change hodgepodge, the reconciliation package, former President Barack Obama is here for his pal, Joe. It’s a sign of weakness on Biden’s part for Obama to have to come out and coax Democrats to get the job done.

Obama is in today’s news cycle because it is the day for the groundbreaking of his presidential library in Chicago. He’s making headlines for that, of course, including an interview on a network morning show. While he has the public’s ear, he wants to remind the viewers that a tax hike on the wealthy and corporations is a good thing. Heck, he’s a rich guy now himself and is happy to pay more taxes.

In an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts — ahead of the groundbreaking for what he sees as a legacy-defining initiative: the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago — the former president urged his party not to shy away from the argument that wealthier Americans should be asked to pay more in taxes.

“I think that they can afford it. We can afford it. I put myself in this category now,” Obama said. “And I think anybody who pretends that it’s a hardship for billionaires to pay a little bit more in taxes so that a single mom gets child care support, or so that we can make sure that our communities aren’t inundated by wildfires and floods and that we’re doing something about climate change, for the next generation, you know, that’s an argument that is unsustainable.”

That is what Democrats always do. They raise taxes in order to finance their spending programs. The premise is that middle-class workers won’t be hurt by tax increases, it’s just going to be the wealthy who will pay more and they can afford to do so. In reality, tax increases always bite the middle and lower bracket taxpayers, too. It is also not truthful that the wealthy among us don’t pay their share of taxes. As the Heritage Foundation points out:

High-income Americans already pay the large majority of taxes, and the U.S. tax system is highly progressive when compared to those of other countries.

Proposals such as the wealth tax will make the U.S. fiscal system even more unbalanced and would slow our economic recovery.

Congress needs to stop spending unnecessary trillions of dollars on poorly targeted stimulus and start reforming spending growth.

Democrats demonize wealthy Americans and successful corporations to justify their attempts to raise taxes. The economy will slow, which is not a good thing right now. Inflation has already reared its ugly head and the Biden economic recovery from the financial devastation of the pandemic is anemic – just like Obama’s economic recovery was the slowest since the Great Depression. Biden was supposed to be Obama’s point man on the economy as we recovered from the Wall Street crash at the end of George W. Bush’s administration.

Progressives are holding the bi-partisan infrastructure bill hostage until the larger $3.5T reconciliation package is passed along with it. It’s all or nothing for them. Obama sounds like he is all-in for the passage of both together, too. It’s not surprising.

It used to be that former presidents left office and let the next one have the spotlight. Even Bill Clinton remained relatively quiet after leaving office. Obama and his wife have both remained politically active and don’t hesitate to jump into current events. The story is that Joe Biden has not exactly broken a sweat in twisting Democrat arms to pass his agenda. It’s crunch time now and Obama is trying to move the needle. And, his involvement is good publicity for his presidential library project.

“I think anybody who pretends that it’s a hardship for billionaires to pay a little bit more in taxes so that a single mom gets childcare support or so that we can make sure that our communities aren’t inundated by wildfires and floods and that we’re doing something about climate change for the next generation — you know, that’s an argument that is unsustainable,” Obama said in the interview set to air on Tuesday.

Obama said it makes the most sense for wealthy people “to pay a few percentage points more in taxes in order to make sure that we have an economy that’s fair for everybody.”

He sounds so nonchalant about “a few percentage points more” in taxes, doesn’t he? He’s never lived in the real world and met a payroll or worried about laying off employees because business slows when the economy does. He hasn’t learned a thing. The same is true for Biden. No real-world experience and it shows.