Obama's Tax Hike Symbolism vs. Romney's Tax Reform Evasions


The current back and forth between presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Obama over changes to the tax code does a pretty good job of illustrating the choice voters will face in November: On the one hand you have President Obama, who is stumping for a pointless, ineffective, almost entirely symbolic tax hike that's more about casting blame than actually fixing the country's considerable fiscal problems. On the other hand, you have Mitt Romney who definitely wants to not do whatever it is that President Obama is doing, and prefers do something vague and sort of Reaganesque instead, precise details TBD.

Today, President Obama is once again touting the "Buffett Rule" today, a proposed new tax on income over $1 million that President Obama says would ensure that the wealthy pay their "fair share" in taxes. It's almost pure gimmick, a political ploy designed in part to channel resentment against high earners and in part to exploit public distrust of his opponent, Mitt Romney, who is one of those high earners.

To be fair, Obama is trying to justify the tax as a way of paying for all the awesome government stuff he wants to give people. A Politico item on the President's Buffett Rule speech today reports that "Obama said that for education, research, infrastructure and other investments that benefit the country as a whole to continue, there must be a way to pay for it." Read the speech, and you'll see he's also pitching it as a way to reduce the deficit. But the Buffett Rule wouldn't pay for much—or meaningfully reduce the deficit. Estimates indicate that it would raise about $47 billion over ten years against the current baseline, assuming no other changes to today's law. Against a more realistic baseline, it would raise a little more: about $160 billion over a decade.

As a comparison, the Congressional Budget Office expects that the federal government will run a deficit of $1.2 trillion this year alone. Previous annual deficits under Obama were even higher. If the President were actually concerned about sky-high budget deficits, he might have considered not racking up record fiscal gaps for the first few years of his presidency. Fiscally, the Buffett Rule would be about as meaningful as running up a thousand dollar unpaid bar tab every night for a week, and then leaving the bartender a $100 bill as you leave on Friday night.

But like I said: This isn't about effective policy. This is about political symbolism, populist angst, and election-year attack lines. And that symbolism is directed mostly at making life difficult for a very specific well-off person—Obama's general election rival, Mitt Romney.

Romney, for his part, has laid into the Buffett Rule. It's class warfare, he says. "Let's find the very most successful in our country and say they're bad guys. Go after 'em. And let's divide America,'" is how he described the rule a in a campaign speech earlier this week.

How would Romney like to reform the tax code? With a series of big-ticket tax cuts. In 2008, Romney made it clear where his views on tax cuts came from: "I strongly have been of the view that one of the great lessons for Ronald Reagan was that lowering taxes helped built our economy." Here's the problem: Romney says he'd make sure that the tax cuts are revenue neutral. He'd cut some spending and get rid of existing tax loopholes to pay for them. Everyone wants a simpler tax code, right? But it's one thing to say that simpler is better. It's another to say which deductions, each of which benefits a class of people, should be scrapped. And Romney won't say which spending he'd cut, or which loopholes he'd close—and, in theory, this would be on top of additional spending cuts that's he's also declined to name. It's tax reform mystery meat.

Granted, Romney's Democratic rival is not exactly clearer. Obama has also taken up the rhetorical fight against tax loopholes too—and then proposed adding at least one new loophole.

NEXT: Applications for Unemployment Benefits Hit a Two-Month High, Obama Touts Romneycare as a Model, Connecticut Kills the Death Penalty: P.M. Links

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  1. “You don’t scare me! Work on it.”

    1. Sir what?! Were you about to call me an asshole?!

      1. “Or I will gouge out your eyeballs and skullfuck you!”

  2. Cutting taxes without cutting spending is just fucking irresponsible. Fuck both of those guys for similar, yet different, reasons.

    I’m going to go play with matches and try and get my mind off of fucking dumb American voters who pay no mind to the cliff ahead.

    1. I’m starting to believe that anyone who votes in America is dumb and that those who don’t vote art smart. Because how can a smart person really choose to support one of these two clowns?

      1. Choosing the lesser of evils isnt the same as supporting evil. Sometimes ( every election day ) some of us attempt to minimize the damage.

        1. The way I see it, when you vote you’re transferring your decision making rights and power to an agent, most likely a clown and a stranger. By not voting, you retain the right to make your own decisions. The whole “Don’t vote don’t complain” thing makes no sense. The one’s who vote have less reason to complain b/c they’re obviously ok with the whole fucked up system. Ha!

          1. Those decisions are going to be made by clowns whether you vote or not. By voting you can at least fool yourself into thinking you attempted to keep the worst clowns partially at bay.

            Voting or not, I retain the right to make my own decisions, regardless of what the clowns say, but that power only extends so far.

  3. God, this is going to be a painfully dull election to watch. These two schmucks deserve each other.

    1. I plan not to watch, if I can at all help it.

      1. Bingo. Watching this stuff is like watching an episode of Two and a Half Men. The new one.

        1. TV jerkmeat says.

  4. Inevitably, since it happens every 4 years, some mavericky national columnist will publicly fap to the possibility of a bipartisan “super-ticket” combining the two big-party candidates. This year it actually makes sense and would spare us the tedium of 7 months of DECISION 2012!!!1! coverage.

    Not a gnats-ass worth of difference between em.

  5. To be fair, Obama is trying to justify the tax as a way of paying for all the awesome government stuff he wants to give people.

    No Suderman, he is trying to pay down the GOP spending programs. Obama owns the $800 billion stimulus out of the current $16 trillion debt. The rest was run up in the past (mostly Reagan and Bush the Lesser).

    1. *crickets*

      1. Just ignore it, folks. Don’t even respond to Mary.

        1. Oh, fuck you. You are devoid of intellect.

          I have posted here for five years.

          But now you object suddenly. You are bereft of thought, you are just a gamer with malice and a jack-off with nothing to say.

      2. I know, Soc Indy or what ever the fuck your name is – you are a Bush redneck.

        GIT ER DUN!

        1. It is funny to me that dingleberries like you make fun of rednecks and their tractors, coveralls, and ‘get er done’ sayings. If you think about it a second, all of those things are symbolic of hard work, productivity and accomplishment. No other culture has symbols like that. I will take ten thousand ‘rednecks’ over one welfare cumstain like you.

          Fuck you shreek.

          1. Fuck you – I will beat your brains out in any endeavor.

            Ironically I am a David Allan Coe fan. I know rednecks. They glom onto the GOP like spousal abuse victims.

            1. Fuck you – I will beat your brains out in any endeavor.

              Beat him the The Silent Game. Startinnnng now!

            2. Funny, I went to a democratic primary in 2008 and all the people there were complete white trash. Some lady kept talking about her kid getting bit by a copperhead or something.

              1. GOP is full redneck. They hate science and evolve/genetics.

                If you are full bore redneck – fine. You delight in your ignorance.

                1. Guess it’s a good thing this is a LIBERTARIAN website you fucking idiot.

                  And you might have a point about Bush owning them if Obama hadn’t continued every single one of that fucking “compassionate conservative’s” retarded ass spendthrift policies.

                  Oh, and people wouldn’t yell at you so much if you didn’t call anyone who said something bad about Obama a “GOP redneck” you fucking Demfag.

  6. nice photo of Mitt as the snarling beast.

    1. always has reminded me of Ted Baxter off that old TV show

      1. That show had a name, you know.

        1. for me that name is “Ye Olde TV Show with Ted Baxter”

          1. “Who can turn the world on with a smile…?”

  7. “President Obama, who is stumping for a pointless, ineffective, almost entirely symbolic tax hike that’s more about casting blame than actually fixing the country’s considerable fiscal problems.”

    What? Pointless? Dont you people care about fairness?

    I just saw a story about a guy who had a software company. Months ago he had to lay off a substantial number of employees to save the company. He was then able to sell the company for a few bazillion dollars. He rehired all of the layoffs and cut them in on the sale, making all of the employees fabulously rich, including the ones who had been layed off. Someone should punch obamafucktard hard in the mouth then ask him how many people he has made rich with his ‘fairness’ policies. His blowjob buddies who stole taxpayer supplied solyndra money and the like dont count.

    1. Shut up, you stupid fucking redneck.

      You don’t know shit about software. Stick to oil changes and chewin’ tobacky.

      1. ‘shut up, you are stupid!’

        Pure genius shreek. Pure genius.

    2. Something sounds fishy about that. If it was a cash sale, then I could see it, but if it was some cash, and some stock, a sudden increase in headcount would never make it past the negotiating table.

      1. I am not sure about the details, I overheard it on Cavuto’s show last hour. I was too busy cooking to pay close attention.

        1. shreek, I was cooking a mornay sauce for asparagus with my oil stained hands….you know, between spittin’ my tobacky.

          Do you have anything at all besides ad hominem?

          1. I don’t know what “mornay sauce” is.

            Maybe we might agree on shit?

            1. You dont? What a shock. Cant afford gruyere on those welfare checks?

              1. Naahh, you’re my enemy if you hate freedom.

                Freedom starts with Privacy and Choice on birth control.

                It expands to Small Gov.

                and fuck Jim DeMint – that cocksucker hates liberty.

                1. Condoms cost like 7.59 for a 12 pack. And there are multiple brands and sizes and styles. And they prevent the spread of STD’s, unlike the pill. AND there’s more than one type of those too, so spare me the “there’s no choice in birth control” bullshit.

  8. Double alt-text bonus points!

  9. On the one hand … a pointless, ineffective, almost entirely symbolic tax hike …. On the other hand, … something vague and sort of Reaganesque

    And on both hands, a population that will vote for one or the other.

    We are so screwed.

  10. Just give these guys their small-bore victories, and clear the air for the stark realization of how scra-ewed we are.

    Trade the Buffett Rule for line items on “bear DNA” and GSA Vegas. Then listen to crickets chirp as we contemplate the actual cuts and taxes that would be required just to keep the national debt at $20 Trillion.

  11. Obama and Romney…..Romney and Obama…..Two peas in a pod…..

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