Barack Obama seems intent on pressing forward with a middle-class tax cut sooner rather than later. Conservatives should applaud that. However, he also appears to be serious about a disastrous part of his campaign agenda. Over the weekend, Rahm Emanuel suggested the next president wouldn’t just stick to tax cuts:
Rahm Emanuel also hinted that Obama would not postpone a tax increase for families earning more than $250,000 a year despite the deepening economic gloom. He said Obama’s proposals would reduce taxes for 95 percent of working Americans by an average of $1,000 each, resulting in “a net tax cut” for the overall economy.
Is he serious? There is no longer any need to play the class warfare card or gin up the liberal base. But we are in a recession, unemployment is at a fourteen-year high, and the Fed can’t find enough ways to shovel liquidity into the private sector. And Obama still wants to hike taxes?
It is a puzzlement, unless we conclude he really is an ideologue who values income redistribution over all else. And he can spare us the “we have to pay for the tax cuts” rationale. If we were serious about fiscal discipline, we would not be larding up a stimulus package now topping $150B, or considering new giveaways to the car industry.
It is possible that the Republicans have caught their first break. Raising taxes on anyone, let alone small businesses and the few still willing to invest in our economy, will not be greeted kindly by the markets. We will see if Obama is really serious about doing so. If he is, it will be his first significant misstep.