Taxes

Don't Read Obama's Lips; Read Between His Lines in the Sand

|

Yesterday on ABC's This Week, Obama adviser David Axelrod left the door open to funding health care reform through tax hikes on households making less than $250,000, which would violate one of the president's campaign promises. Host George Stephanopoulos showed a September 2008 clip of candidate Obama saying:

I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.

Then Stephanopoulos asked if "the president will veto any health care bill that includes a tax increase on people earning less than $250,000 a year." Axelrod dodged the question. Noting that Obama has said he is "open to compromise" on a proposal to treat health care benefits as taxable income, which would affect many families earning less than $250,000, Stephanopoulos asked whether that meant "the tax pledge he made back in September is no longer operative." Axelrod dodged again. Finally, after Stephanopoulos observed that President Obama is "not drawing a line in the sand," Axelrod replied:

One of the problems we've had in this town is that people draw lines in the sand and they stop talking to each other. And you don't get anything done. That's not the way the president approaches us.

He is very cognizant of protecting people—middle class people, hard-working people who are trying to get along in a very difficult economy. And he will continue to represent them in these talks. But they're also dealing with punishing health care costs, and that's something that we have to deal with.

The beauty of Axelrod's rhetorical strategy is that Obama is being virtuous no matter what decision he makes. If he keeps his promise, he is being faithful to voters. If he breaks his promise, he is still being faithful to voters, since he also promised them health care reform. In any case, Obama broke his tax promise with his very first tax hike. 

Last year, when Obama was slamming John McCain for suggesting that employer-provided medical coverage should be taxed as income, I explained why the idea makes sense, not as a way of raising revenue but as a way of reducing government distortion of the insurance market.

[via Americans for Tax Reform]

NEXT: Is the Supreme Court Ready to Overturn the 'Electioneering Communications' Ban?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “Yesterday on ABC’s This Week, Obama adviser David Axelrod left the door open to funding health care reform through tax hikes on households making less than $250,000…”

    Unless one is a member of a labor union of course – then they would be exempt no matter how much they make.

    Of course if the Carbon Cap and Trade/ Massive energy tax increase plan (if it’s ever enacted into law) also counts as a a violation of that promise.

    Every cent of every increase in the price of gasoline, diesel fuel, coal, natural gas and electricity that occurs after any enactment of that legislation will count as a tax.

  2. What’s amazing is that people are still falling for this crap. The New York Times and Washington Post, among others, are reporting the Obama opposes the carbon tariffs for China, based on this interview transcript.

    But what he said is that “we’re going to have to do a careful analysis to determine whether the prospects of tariffs are necessary” and “[t]here are going to be a series of negotiations around this and I am very mindful of wanting to make sure that there’s a level playing field internationally. I think there may be other ways of doing it than with a tariff approach.”

    So he doesn’t like tariffs but he recognizes and understands why people want them. What does he really think?

    President Obama has a miraculous ability to speak and make everything think that he agrees with them. Mostly it’s because people naturally are biased towards their own opinion, so it goes like this:

    1) President Obama is smart.
    2) President Obama has demonstrated that he understands my argument.
    3) Since I’m right, anyone who is smart and understands my argument will agree with me.

    4) Therefore, President Obama really agrees with me, and while he understands everyone else, they’re wrong, so he doesn’t agree with them, despite what they think.

  3. I don’t know one Obamessiah supporter who is now upset with this. Kool-aid drinkers, all.

  4. One of the problems we’ve had in this town is that people draw lines in the sand and they stop talking to each other. And you don’t get anything done.

    But a much, much bigger problem we’ve had – not just in the “town” of Washington DC but across the entire country – is that people lie to get elected to public office, and as a result the electorate really can’t form any idea what kind of government they’ll get by listening to campaign promises and rhetoric.

    Much, much more important than “getting something done” is getting something done that matches the expectations of the people who did the voting.

  5. Yup, all Obama voters are exactly the same. Just like all libertaryans are just exactly like the seperatist fucks that love north Idaho and claim to be libertarians.

  6. “I don’t know one Obamessiah supporter who is now upset with this. Kool-aid drinkers, all.”

    I’d say most of them remain convinced they will be on the receiving end of all the wealth redistribution rather than the paying end.

  7. He lied and the voters bought it. The president is convinced they will have forgotten about the blatant falsehoods he spewed during his campaign (when he actually made concrete statements) will be forgotten by 2012.

    Let’s face it, the American people are stupid, they don’t pay attention and have a memory span a special olympics competitor.

  8. I need a proofreader.

  9. “Much, much more important than “getting something done” is getting something done that matches the expectations of the people who did the voting.”

    Of equal importance is the fact that the actual outcome of the measures taken to “get something done” very rarely match the stated objectives of what they claimed they were doing and there never seems to be any accountability for that failure.

    Indeed it is usually a pretext for the same people who screwed it up to do more of the same.

  10. Q. I thought you said your plan does not bite?!

    A. That is not *my* plan.

  11. Yup, all Obama voters are exactly the same.

    Okay, brotherben, let’s see a link to an Obama supporter objecting to Obama raising taxed on the Little People by either (a) raising taxes on cigarettes or (b) eliminating the deduction for health insurance.

  12. Most of the people I know who voted for Obama either hate him now or are the sort of people who don’t have much in the way of expectations and just vote out of habit.

    I think taxing employer benefits as income is a good idea (it is income after all), provided that it used to lower the income tax rates for everyone and is combined with other deregulations of health insurance to promote a freer private market in health care. But that is not looking too likely, so I guess I don’t like it because it will just make my taxes go up.

  13. I’d say most of them remain convinced they will be on the receiving end of all the wealth redistribution rather than the paying end.

    I’d say that it’s more likely that they feel like they were in on the con – they knew Obama was lying, but they said to themselves, “Well, you can’t get elected by telling Americans you’ll raise their taxes – and that means we’re entitled to lie, because the public is so unreasonable on the tax issue. They’ll thank us later.”

  14. I’m against health care reform as it will almost certainly make my insurance worse. And if Obama reneges on this pledge then he is certainly on my shit list.

  15. fluffy
    I certainly wasn’t in on any count, I took him at his word and his pledge was important to me. IMO he violated it with the cig tax increase for SCHIP which pissed me off, but as it did not affect me I let that one slide.

  16. R C Dean, somebody asked me about the tobacco tax a few weeks ago here on HnR and I said I disagreed with it. I can’t find it right now, but it is here. IIRC, Obama slammed McCain in the debates and in ads,about taxing insurance benefits. Now he is talking of doing that very thing. There are a number of Obama supporters that are finding him very disagreeable.

    Contrary to local opinion, some of us that voted for Obama are actually capable of rational thought. No, really.

  17. “I’d say that it’s more likely that they feel like they were in on the con – they knew Obama was lying, but they said to themselves, “Well, you can’t get elected by telling Americans you’ll raise their taxes – and that means we’re entitled to lie, because the public is so unreasonable on the tax issue. They’ll thank us later.”

    Oh I have no doubt that is the mindest of the liberal elite crowd.

    But the Annointed One would never have been elected if that group’s vote was all he got.

    He also got the vote of the sponge, leech and parasite class and most all of them still expect to get handouts instead of bills to pay.

  18. Hey Gilbert, you do know that Obama beat McCain in every income group, right? So go ahead with your fantasy world, kiss a Klingon, ride a Griffon to work tomorrow, etc.,

  19. “Hey Gilbert, you do know that Obama beat McCain in every income group, right? So go ahead with your fantasy world, kiss a Klingon, ride a Griffon to work tomorrow, etc.,”

    Wouldn’t “every income group” include “the vote of the sponge, leech and parasite class” that Gilbert is talking about?

    Yes MNG he did win every income class. And each class assured itself that he wasn’t what he appeared to be.

  20. 1) “Most of the people I know who voted for Obama … hate him now …”

    2) “… some of us that voted for Obama are actually capable of rational thought.”

  21. John
    If a candidate won every income group, then it was certainly not just the “sponge and leech” class that put the guy over…

    Actually, he kind of tied McCain in the middle to upper middle class to barely rich brackets. But my point stands…

  22. The sponge, leech, and parasite class is not limited to very low or no income “folks”. White Trash is not an income category.

  23. Q. I thought you said your plan does not bite?!

    A. That is not *my* plan.

    (Just in case, reference explained here and here.)

  24. again, arguing over the 2008 election is just silly. What’s done is done, and I still maintain that 2008 was nothing more than a referendum on President Bush. And everyone knows it. Even the current president knows it, because he keeps kicking around the previous Administration in his press releases and such.

    We shall see how the President stands in 2012 without the shadow of Bush looming in the background.

  25. “The sponge, leech, and parasite class is not limited to very low or no income “folks”

    Indeed.

    The class also includes executives and employees of ethanol, solar and wind power companies, etc. etc.

  26. he spewed during his campaign (when he actually made concrete statements)

    When the hell was that? Very early in the campaign? I sure as hell never heard any unqualified statements on any subject of substance.

  27. Thanks, EJM, for your kindness.

  28. …but as it did not affect me I let that one slide.

    Isn’t there a poem like that, “When they came for me..”? Oh, never mind, where’s that Kool Aid.

  29. And if Obama reneges on this pledge then he is certainly on my shit list.

    So he’s on your shit list, MNG? Because he already raised taxes on people making less than $250K.

  30. I don’t think this president plans on keeping any of his promises. He is so bad, he is proving himself to be the best friend of, and is almost singlehandedly reviving, the once-thought-doomed Republican Party.
    The deficit is ballooning, unemployment is rising despite the stimulus that we were told would keep unemployment below 8%, an economy destroying stealth tax increase on energy was passed, and now he is providing his opposition with a “read my lips, no new taxes” moment.

    This president is proving to be such a disaster, the Democrats in the House will be lucky if their caucus will be large enough to fill the back of a taxicab after November 2010.

  31. the Democrats in the House will be lucky if their caucus will be large enough to fill the back of a taxicab after November 2010.

    Absent some catastrophe, foreign or domestic, I think the Dems will keep their majorities in both houses in 2010. Much reduce, I hope, but still majorities.

  32. R C Dean,
    I think in 2010, if the economy isn’t showing dramatic growth, the voters are gonna say,” Bush screwed things up sooooo bad that it’s gonna take even more time for Obama to fix it.*” Just for good measure, they’ll run off a few more republicans that have stood in the way of progress. If the economy is off and running great, we will then be treated to a near single party gubmint.

    *not my views, just my prediction. you fellas have way to much confidence in the system to be righted by the voters.

  33. For the above to happen:
    1)everybody gets health insurance.
    2)the promised jobs come online.
    3)voters don’t read any books on economics.

  34. The beauty of Axelrod’s rhetorical strategy is that Obama is being virtuous no matter what decision he makes. If he keeps his promise, he is being faithful to voters. If he breaks his promise, he is still being faithful to voters, since he also promised them health care reform.

    In Obamaland, cognitive dissonance is a feature, not a bug.

  35. Not an Obama supporter by any stretch of the imagination, but y’all need to learn to parse any Obama quote carefully:

    I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.

    First off, one could argue that making health insurance payments taxable is not really a tax increase, since it merely increases one’s taxable income. Surely Obama didn’t mean to say that a family that made $50,000 in 2008 and then $75,000 in 2009 wouldn’t see their taxes increase, so it’s clear he didn’t pledge that the taxable income formulas would not be altered in a way that (indirectly) caused increased taxes.

    With respect to the second bolded phrase, one could argue that instituting a brand new tax — ie, one that didn’t exist at the time Obama gave this quote — isn’t really an increase in a tax. This argument is strengthened by the fact that Obama lists a bunch of currently existing taxes (and the phrase “any of your taxes” most likely refers to the taxes you have at the time of this speech).

  36. > y’all need to learn to parse any Obama quote carefully:

    OK, Tulpa, I think I’m starting to get this transparency thing now.

    “I can make a firm pledge. [to not smoke in front of my kids] Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. [but this is just a *plan*, not the implementation]”

    Something like that?

  37. Rich,

    Excellent. Now you are ready to go out into the world, my son.

  38. MNG,

    IMO he violated it with the cig tax increase for SCHIP which pissed me off, but as it did not affect me I let that one slide.

    I tend to get more outraged about the things that dont affect me.

    For example, smoking bans piss me off and Ive never smoked anything and hate being around smoke.

    Call it “empathy” for the freedoms of others if you want. 🙂

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.