President Obama continued his campaign to demonize his opponents in the sequester standoff yesterday. Appearing on the radio show of racial huckster Al Sharpton, the president again attempted to frame the issue facing the country as one that pit the middle class and the poor against the wealthy. If Republicans refused to accede to his demands for a budget solution that would include more tax hikes, it was because affection for the wealthy was the core principle at the heart of their political coalition:
My sense is that their basic view is that nothing is important enough to raise taxes on wealthy individuals or corporations. And they would prefer to see these kinds of cuts that could slow down our recovery over closing tax loopholes, and that’s the thing that binds their party together at this point.
This is not just false but the kind of over-the-top rhetoric that gives the lie to the president’s pose of moderation and a willingness to reach out across the aisle. His claim that the rich don’t pay taxes is also false. So is the notion that it is only the wealthy who are being hurt by the government’s appetite for more “revenue” on his watch, as every American–be they rich, middle class or poor–found out last month when they saw their take-home pay drastically reduced by the increase in the payroll tax. But there is more to this debate than just Obama’s penchant for political talk. Conservatives do oppose tax increases as a general principle–not because they see it as their job to defend the wealthy but because they rightly understand their proper role as defending all Americans against the expansion of government power.
The common thread throughout all of the president’s political pronouncements—such as the laundry list of liberal government projects he wishes to fund included in his State of the Union address—is the notion that big government is back to stay. Though he couches his rhetoric in such a way as to claim that he is not trying to expand the deficit, not even his supporters really believe that. But they are thrilled that the re-elected Barack Obama seems determined to bring the country back to a time when there was no end in sight to the growth of government-funded entitlements.
What conservatives understand is that this project is not something that will only be paid for by the rich. The top 1 percent of the country in terms of wealth already pay 38 percent of all taxes. And even if that figure is made to expand exponentially, it will never be enough to pay for all the things Obama wants government to do.
It may well be that, at least in the short term until the impending insolvency of our entitlement-bloated budget forces a change, those who promise the unending delivery of government goodies to as many people as possible will be politically successful. The president may certainly be forgiven for reaching that conclusion–especially after a re-election campaign in which his class warfare pitch was made even easier by Mitt Romney’s impolitic, but not altogether false, crack about Republicans not having a chance to gain the votes of the 47 percent of Americans who pay no taxes.
But Republicans should be united in their belief that the more money looted from the taxpayers, the bigger government and the federal bureaucracy will grow and with it an ever-rising federal debt that will eventually sink this country. The reason why Obama’s “balanced” approach to deficit reduction—which on the face of it seems so reasonable—must be opposed is that the president’s promises of cuts are no more credible than those of a “three-card monte” street game in which the pigeon can always count on being fleeced. No matter what he says now and no matter how much is taken from the wealthy, the government and the deficit will continue to grow and that will impoverish every taxpayer.
Calling the president out for this con game that liberals have been playing on the public for generations is a defense of the integrity of all taxpayers as well as common sense. The president may think he can evade a real debate about the deficit with name-calling and deceptive promises, but sooner or later the liberal project will be capsized by the debt he is running up. Though they have good reason to worry that Obama is getting the better of them at the moment, this is an issue around which Republicans ought to unite.