A reader who responded to one of my earlier columns had an interesting story to tell. It seems that he works with several people who used to have a less than favorable opinion of President Obama. Note to readers: In saying “less than favorable” I am being tactful. However, after listening to one of the president’s speeches this man’s colleagues had been converted. They were so impressed with the president’s message and his delivery that they had become instant Obama fans.
It is admittedly hard to believe that anyone could be so gullible as to be converted by just one speech—especially when the speech maker is well-known for his distortion, deception, and double talk. However, for the sake of argument I will assume that the story was accurate. After all, Barack Obama did fool enough voters to get himself elected president. And that—Obama’s gift for deception coupled with the manifest gullibility of some voters—is what concerns me.
Ronald Reagan was justifiably known as the Great Communicator because he was a master of verbal imagery. President Reagan used his verbal skills to inform, communicate, and motivate. President Obama is also a master of verbal imagery. However, he uses his verbal skills to mislead, prevaricate, and manipulate. Consequently, I believe the president has earned the title, the Great Deceiver. Perhaps the most egregious example of how President Obama uses carefully crafted language to deceive occurs every time he discusses tax increases. In his most recent state of the union address, President Obama claimed that Warren Buffett’s middle-class secretary paid more in taxes than her boss, the billionaire. This is effective rhetoric, provided your goal is to deceive your listeners concerning the facts while simultaneously appealing to class envy. Warren Buffett does not receive a paycheck. His money is made from investments. As anyone who has ever invested in the stock market knows, some investments make money and some lose. When Buffett’s investments make money he must pay a capital gains tax on the amount earned by his investments. The current rate on capital gains is 15 percent. His secretary earns a paycheck that is taxed at a rate of 25 to 28 percent. So, yes, Warren Buffett pays a lesser tax RATE than his secretary. But to say he pays less in taxes is ridiculous.
Do the math. Applying a rate of 15 percent against a billionaire’s capital gains will produce substantially more than applying a rate of 25 to 28 percent against his secretary’s $50,000 salary. If you were the recipient, which check would you prefer? There is a reason why the capital gains tax rate is less than the standard income tax rate. It is because the money that fuels job creation comes from people like Warren Buffett who take the risk to invest their money in companies they think have potential. That money gives these companies the capital they need to grow, expand, and add jobs. The lower the capital gains tax, the more incentive people with money have to invest it and, in turn, the more money companies have to grow, expand, and add jobs.
Where President Obama was especially disingenuous was in focusing on raising the taxes of wealthy Americans without admitting to the obvious alternative: Why not simply lower the rates of all Americans—Buffett and his secretary? Why not try what conservatives have proposed many times: throw out the tax code, eliminate the IRS, and charge all Americans a flat tax? If the president and his fellow travelers on the left really want fairness, what could be more fair than that?