Friday, April 13, 2012

Obama chooses gimmicks over real solutions

When Obama entered office, we were already facing a future fiscal crisis due to inexorably rising mandatory spending on entitlements and interest on the debt. Not only did Obama do absolutely nothing to address this real problem, he simply added to the looming crisis by cramming through his health care plan built on lies about its cost and double-counting. Now that he's facing reelection, he is trying to pretend that he has an actual solution with his trumpeting of the so-called Buffett Rule. As Charles Krauthammer argues today and others have pointed out, such a change in taxes would do absolutely nothing to address our debt.
Okay. Let’s do the math. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates this new tax would yield between $4 billion and $5 billion a year. If we collect the Buffett tax for the next 250 years — a span longer than the life of this republic — it would not cover the Obama deficit for 2011 alone.

As an approach to our mountain of debt, the Buffett Rule is a farce. And yet Obama repeated the ridiculous claim again this week. “It will help us close our deficit.” Does he really think we’re that stupid?
Well, yes, he does. Dependence on the electorate's gullibility and liking for class warfare arguments is all the guy has left. Obama would rather demagogue about fairness than tackle the tough job of trying to figure out how to reform our tax policy or the structure of our entitlements. And when Paul Ryan, and, by extension, Mitt Romney actually propose a way of tackling these issues Barack Obama and the Democrats say they're going to throw Granny off the cliff.

And the proposals that Obama does have will exacerbate our slow economic growth.
The Buffett Rule is, in fact, a disguised tax hike on capital gains. But Obama prefers to present it as just an alternative minimum tax because 50 years of economic history show that raising the capital gains tax backfires: It reduces federal revenue, while lowering the tax raises revenue.

No matter. Obama had famously said in 2008 that even if that’s the case, he’d still raise the capital gains tax — for the sake of fairness.

For Obama, fairness is the supreme social value. And fairness is what he is running on — although he is not prepared to come clean on its price. Or even acknowledge that there is a price. Instead, Obama throws in a free economic lunch for all. “This is not just about fairness,” he insisted on Wednesday. “This is also about growth.”

Growth? The United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world. Now, in the middle of a historically weak recovery, Obama wants to raise our capital gains tax to the fourth highest. No better way to discourage investment — and the jobs and growth that come with it. (Except, perhaps, for hyperregulation. But Obama is working on that too.)

Three years ago, Obama promised universal health care that saves money. Today, he offers a capital gains tax hike that spurs economic growth. This is free-lunch egalitarianism.

The Buffett Rule redistributes deck chairs on the Titanic, ostensibly to make more available for those in steerage. Nice idea, but the iceberg cometh. The enterprise is an exercise in misdirection — a distraction not just from Obama’s dismal record on growth and unemployment but, more important, from his dereliction of duty in failing to this day to address the utterly predictable and devastating debt crisis ahead.
For a man who came into office with popular support and vast majorities in both houses of Congress, he has totally squandered the opportunity to do something to address the nation's problems. Instead he outsourced the stimulus to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid thus wasting over $800 billion dollars in a failed attempt to revive the economy. He crammed through a bulky health care plan that will only exacerbate our problems with health care. He neglected true tax reform and ignored the sensible recommendations of his own debt commission.

He has a pocketful of nothing now to offer us. So he chooses gimmickry that few are fooled by. And then he piles on the demagoguery and lies about what his opponents are proposing. This is truly contemptible.