President Obama spent 75 excruciating minutes at a White House press conference last week touting his “jobs” bill and accusing Republicans in Congress of blocking an economic resurgence. He took questions from nine reporters and delivered long and tedious answers. Two days earlier, by the way, New Jersey governor Chris Christie got 42 questions (not including follow-ups) and gave terse replies during a 50-minute session in which he said he won’t be running for president in 2012.
From Obama, we learned his burning desire to raise taxes hasn’t cooled. He offered 11 reasons (by my count) why higher taxes would be beneficial. This must be some kind of record. He talked about tax hikes as if they were good for whatever ails the country or at least bothers him—Dr. Obama’s Magic Elixir.
Raising taxes equals deficit reduction in Obama’s perfect world. And if taxes aren’t hiked, “millionaires and billionaires . . . have lower tax rates in some cases than plumbers and teachers.” But if taxes are increased, “we can put teachers and construction workers and veterans back on the job.” That’s three reasons right there.
Obama sometimes doubles up on the code words for more taxes. “The story of America,” he said at a fundraiser in Washington in September, “is all of us joining together and everybody sharing in sacrifice.” What he has in mind here is for the tax burden on the well-to-do—their “share”—to go up. They alone would “sacrifice.”
It would be good for them. “They’d be doing better, they’d be making more money,” Obama said at last week’s press conference, even as their tax bill soars. The temporary payroll tax reductions in his bill would give “ordinary Americans” more cash and leave them “feeling more confident about the economy.”
That’s an “irony” of American history, he said. “When folks in the middle and at the bottom are doing well, the folks at the top do even better.” So we have still another code word for raising taxes: irony. Morphing higher taxes into a magic elixir for prosperity is quite a feat. Obama isn’t succinct, unlike Chris Christie. But he sure is clever.