In remarks delivered yesterday before a raucous crowd of college students, President Obama offered a critique of Representative Paul Ryan’s spending reforms which can be summarized in one word: taxes.
It was almost as if the President was channeling the fictional record producer portrayed by Christopher Walken in the famous Saturday Night Live comedy sketch. Doctor Obama has a fever, and there’s only one prescription: more taxes.
Unfortunately, Obama is not a fictional record producer, but a sitting president.
Even before Obama was elected president, liberals complained that after September 11, we as a nation were not forced to make “sacrifices.” For liberals, this was a code word for raising taxes on gasoline. Faced with a terrorist attack that shut down Wall Street for a week and caused the biggest stock market crash in our history up to that point, the reflexive liberal response was to raise taxes as penance for our environmental sins.
Then, just weeks after his election, Obama’s new chief of staff Rahm Emanuel proclaimed, “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” In Obama’s mind, the solution to the worst economic crisis in a generation was a government takeover of health care, which included passage of tax increases on individuals, doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, employers, pharmaceutical companies, medical suppliers, and equipment manufacturers.
Over the first two years of his presidency, Obama’s party in Congress increased government spending by more than 21%. Faced with trillion-dollar deficits of his own making, Obama’s conviction that we needed higher taxes only grew. However, after suffering the largest loss of seats in Congress for the incumbent party since 1948, even Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid could not muster the will to raise taxes.
After bipartisan passage of a bill to extend current tax rates until 2012, President Obama could not resist complaining about the lack of tax increases during remarks at the signing ceremony. Even though economists agreed that large tax increases would reverse the tentative first steps of economic recovery, Obama could not let the moment pass without insisting that he would rather have raised taxes and describing the compromise as a necessary evil.
Now, faced with a national debt that is growing faster than the economy and interest payments that will soon overtake all non-defense discretionary spending, Obama’s chief complaint is that Republicans in Congress want to reduce the tax burden to spur faster economic growth while at the same time reforming entitlements to bring spending under control.
If it weren’t already such a tired refrain, it might be possible to take the President seriously. But like the boy who cried wolf, it’s hard to believe the President when he says the solution to every problem is more taxes.