Alan Reynolds does what neither the MSM or the McCain camp has really done: get into the math. He looks at Barack Obama’s spending plans and explains:
A trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money. Altogether, Mr. Obama is promising at least $4.3 trillion of increased spending and reduced tax revenue from 2009 to 2018 — roughly an extra $430 billion a year by 2012-2013.
How is he going to pay for it?
Raising the tax rates on the salaries, dividends and capital gains of those making more than $200,000-$250,000, and phasing out their exemptions and deductions, can raise only a small fraction of the amount. Even if we have a strong economy, Mr. Obama’s proposed tax hikes on the dwindling ranks of high earners would be unlikely to raise much more than $30 billion-$35 billion a year by 2012.
Besides, Mr. Obama does not claim he can finance his ambitious plans for tax credits, health insurance, etc. by taxing the rich. On the contrary, he has an even less likely revenue source in mind.
The bottom line is that taxing the “rich” won’t begin to pay for all this:
Mr. Obama has offered no clue as to how he intends to pay for his health-insurance plans, or doubling foreign aid, or any of the other 175 programs he’s promised to expand. Although he may hope to collect an even larger share of loot from the top of the heap, the harsh reality is that this Democrat’s quest for hundreds of billions more revenue each year would have to reach deep into the pockets of the people much lower on the economic ladder. Even then he’d come up short.
So that raises the 64,000 . . . er . . . billion (or more) dollar question: will Obama abandon his spending plans, jack up taxes much higher than he has let on, or try to print and borrow more money to pay for it all? We don’t know, because he has never been grilled and never been forced to respond to the math.
That’s a failing of the media, but really even more so by his opponent. McCain could have done some Ross Perot-style charts. He could have laid out the math as simply as Reynolds did. He could have run ads on this central issue — one he really likes (i.e. fiscal discipline). Why not? It remains one of the many mysteries of a campaign with the curious habit of hiding its best arguments.