Two years ago, as the United States was coming out of the last recession, President Obama was asked how raising taxes on anyone would help with the economy. The President’s answer? “Normally you don’t raise taxes in a recession, which is why we haven’t, and why we’ve instead cut taxes.” Fast forward to today, as America is struggling with zero job growth and a stagnant economy, and the President has dramatically changed his rhetoric, proposing $1.5 trillion in new taxes on the American people and the country’s job creators.
Those massive tax increases come as part of the President’s plan to reduce the nation’s out-of-control debt, but rather than address the underlying spending problem, it will further deepen America’s economic quagmire and only serves to stall the real reform American needs in order to get on a path of fiscal sanity, as Heritage’s Alison Fraser explains:
Obama is demanding a ‘balanced’ approach as though somehow hiking taxes is both fair and necessary. But this notion that he is pushing — half tax hikes and half spending cuts — is beyond the class warfare message it sends. It is a tactic. A tactic to stall the real reforms that our leaders in Washington must undertake now in order to avert a fiscal, economic and moral crisis.
Real reform is necessary because of the depth and scope of America’s spending nightmare. ”The federal government today is claiming roughly one-fourth of total economic output — about 25 percent of gross domestic product,” Heritage’s Patrick Knudsen writes. That’s a post-World War II record, and it’s a huge drag on the economy since all that spending is paid for by taxes and borrowing, which reduce the amount available for investment in the private economy. And down the road, the outlook isn’t good: Social Security is growing at a rate of 5.8 percent per year, Medicare at 6.3 percent, and Medicaid at 9 percent. Unless those programs are fundamentally reformed, their costs will keep going up, and taxes will have to keep being increased to pay for them.
Disappointingly, the President yesterday retreated from his previous overtures to entitlement reform and took Social Security reform off the table while proposing minor cuts to Medicare and Medicaid–rather than the reform that would make a significant difference for the country. Obama’s plan is bad news for our nation’s defense as well, posing even more radical cuts for an already under-funded military.
Setting aside for a moment the fact that the President’s plan ignores America’s core spending problems, his plan to drastically raise taxes is coming at a time when the country can least afford it. How will the latest Obama tax increase play out? Heritage’s Curtis Dubay explains:
The new revenue would come from allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for families and small businesses earning more than $250,000 a year, limiting their deductions, and the President’s new “Buffett Rule” that would further raise these job creators’ taxes in some way which the President has not defined. He also wants to eliminate deductions, credits, and exemptions. This is a war the President is waging on success–as if so-called fat cats were the root of our spending problems.
The President has set his sights on the wealthy despite the fact that the top 10 percent of earners in America already pay about 70 percent of federal income taxes. And taxing America’s job creators will only serve to reduce productivity, slow economic growth, depress wages and salaries, and decrease household wealth. To use the President’s own words, raising taxes in bad economic times would “take more demand out of the economy and put businesses in a further hole.” Where is that President Obama today?
Raising taxes will not fix our budget and debt crisis. But it can be solved by transforming our entitlement programs, rolling back wasteful and inefficient spending, protecting the nation, and overhauling our punitive, inefficient and noncompetitive tax code, as laid out in Saving the American Dream: The Heritage Plan to Fix the Debt, Cut Spending and Restore Prosperity.
America is facing an unemployment crisis, a debt crisis, a spending crisis, and an entitlement crisis. Instead of making things better, President Obama wants to make matters worse by icing that nightmarish cake with massive tax increases. Two years ago, President Obama emphatically renounced raising taxes in a recession. Now, with the 2012 election looming, he has changed his tune and is taking aim at America’s job creators in a game of class warfare designed to play to his liberal base. Job creation has fallen by the wayside.