Megan McArdle put her finger on precisely why Barack Obama floated the oh-heck-no proposal to tax people’s 529 college funds: “About the only people I saw defending this particular idea were blue-state singles who haven’t yet confronted the monstrous expense of shepherding their progeny into the new mandarin class to which they belong.” …And that’s who Barack Obama was trying to back-channel pander to, of course. In 2012 single voters broke strongly for Obama – single women more so then men – and since a tax hike on college fund earnings wouldn’t affect them too much (especially the ones without kids), Obama probably figures that it’s a ‘safe’ tax hike to have*. Continue reading Barack Obama calculated that calling for 529 tax hikes was safe enough.
I said on Twitter the other day that Barack Obama’s new tax hike proposals weren’t designed to pass, or even embarrass the Right (they won’t): he made them in order to keep the Left off of his back. Alas, nobody noticed or cared enough to push back; but if somebody had done so I would have noted that ‘higher taxes’ is the Democrats’ great white whale. They always chase it, obsess over it really – and never seem to notice that everybody else looks at them funny over it.
And it’s not exactly difficult to counter the rhetoric. Case in point: from a Hill article on the GOP response to the aforementioned tax hikes.
“It’s not surprising to see the president call for tax hikes, but now he’s asking Congress to reverse bipartisan tax relief that he signed into law,” said Don Stewart, deputy chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Stewart said that “Republicans believe we should simplify America’s outdated tax code; that tax filing should be easier for you, not just those with fancy accountants; and that tax reform should create jobs for families, not the [Internal Revenue Service].”
To summarize: $92.6 billion in spending (7% increase over last year’s); $9.2 billion deficit over eighteen months (half in the first six months, the other half in the next twelve). Brown is requesting $7 billion in new taxes, mostly from raising the sales tax again (to 7.75%) but with a faux-populist-friendly soak-the-rich* (actually, soak-the-small-business-owner) increase to 10.3%. Or the state can ‘cut’ an additional $4.8 billion in educational aid (he’s already planning to reduce poverty assistance by $4.2 billion): the most increased spending appears to be in tax relief/local government**… and education. In other words, that cut would actually be mostly in a projected increase in education spending, which means that it’s not really a cut at all.
Or, to summarize the summary: Brown’s bailing out the municipalities; and he’s trying to blackmail the Californian populace into a tax hike to pay for it by threatening to wipe out an increase in K-12 education funds if they don’t vote said hike in. See how that works? Increase spending in a line-item; then call the threat to remove that increase a ‘budget cut’ and use it to justify a ‘temporary’ tax. It’s a great scam; or, rather, it was a great scam twenty years ago, when there was more give in the system. Today, it’s just kind of alarming. Continue reading Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D, CA) new budget: more spending and higher taxes!
In a socially-acceptable way, of course: ie, via another hike in the tax on tobacco. The “Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative” – a name whose hint of subtle menace should make small-government types involuntarily shiver – looking to raise it by a buck a pack, because… well, pretty much because they want people to quit smoking, and taxing it through the ceiling is supposed to accomplish that. And it might… except for one minor little detail. You see, Maryland’s state sales tax on tobacco is currently two dollars; over in Virginia it’s thirty cents.
Personally, I’m not entirely certain why the Obama administration is so adamant about raising taxes on small businesses, but they’ve at least abandoned their previous position where a possible early end to Bush-era tax breaks (now scheduled to expire in 2012) was on the debt ceiling negotiating table. Unfortunately, the White House is still adamantly refusing to accept the pesky objective reality that there are no Magical Revenue Generators that will allow the country to boost the tax-to-GDP revenue ratio to 25%, forever. In other words, the Democrats don’t want to even think about making spending cuts, and they’re reacting to exasperated Republican calls for them in precisely the same way that pigs react when you don’t refill the trough with swill.
I know that people out there get exasperated with the GOP some times, but if there’s been a better contrast in recent memory between Bad and Worse* than in the comparison of this Congress to the last one, I can’t think of it offhand.
William McGurn would like you to grasp it firmly, please:
[NRO’s Reihan Salam], a policy adviser at the pro-market think tank Economics 21, observes that the revenues Mr. Obama needs to pay for his agenda fall in the rung just below the super-rich—that is, Americans earning between $100,000 and $200,000. The political problem is that this is a block that went Republican by 56% to 43% in 2010.
[TNR/Brooking Institute’s William Galston] cheerfully supports raising taxes on those with incomes between $100,000 and $250,000 to support progressive policies and help tame the deficit. He is simply honest enough to know that Mr. Obama cannot get the top 2% of income earners to pay for everything he has promised to do.
Stupidly promised to do, by the way. Just to make that clear: insanely increasing spending to the point where you’ll have to explicitly break an explicit promise:
Allahpundit calls House Democrats “a gang of cheap losers” for folding like this, and it’s hard to disagree: apparently, all that rhetoric about tax cuts for the rich can easily be trumped with an additional ethanol subsidy. To which I say, drink deep: because in a world where Al Cubslayer Gore is talking about ending that kind of pork, the odds that it’s going to get renewed by the House next year is dropping precipitously.
Also, out of curiosity: is there anything that a Democratic politician will stand his or her ground on? I mean, personally I have to take a somewhat detached view about what slop the President has to feed to his pigs in order to get them to stop squealing; the GOP currently has no effective control over that aspect of domestic policy. Still… there’s more than the slop for Democrats, right? – But if there is, why can’t I figure out what it could possibly be?