I’m pleased that the President has finally told the country — in no uncertain terms — that we simply can’t afford to keep taxes at historic lows for rich people.
“Either we have to ask the wealthy to pay their fair share, or we have to ask seniors to pay more for medicare, or gut education. This is not class warfare. It’s math.”
I wish the president would add that progressive taxation built the American middle class and leads to a healthier democracy and economy — but I’ll take it.
Unfortunately, Obama hasn’t always been this strong and clear on taxes. Contrast the above statement with his Super Bowl interview with Bill O’Reilly last February.
O’REILLY: Here’s what the Wall Street Journal said, I want you to react to this. Mr. Obama is a determined man of the left whose goal is to redistribute much larger levels of income across society. He may give tactical ground when he has to, as he did on taxes to avoid a middle class tax increase, but he will resist to his last day any major changes to Obamacare and the other load-bearing walls of the entitlement state.
This is The Wall Street Journal you know painting you as pretty left-wing guy. Are you going to go along?
[...]OBAMA: You know, that’s like quoting the New York Times editorial…
O’REILLY: Do you deny the assessment? Do you deny that you are a man who wants to redistribute wealth.
O’REILLY: You deny that?
OBAMA: Absolutely. I didn’t raise taxes once, I lowered taxes over the last two years.
Obama allowed O’Reilly to frame progressive taxation as “wealth redistribution” — which is absurd. All taxation is by definition, “wealth redistribution,” and Obama should’ve noted that taxes are at unaffordable, historic lows, and that the concentration of wealth at the top is near historic highs.
He should’ve also reminded O’Reilly that the Bush tax cuts were never meant to be permanent and that they had driven up deficits and failed to produced jobs. But instead, he positioned himself as a tax cutter who doesn’t think rich people should pay more. In short, he blew it.
The President would be in a much stronger position politically now if he had been arguing that the wealthy “pay their fair share” all along.