Taxes & Spending

The Taxman Cometh

President Obama is quoted in Jonathan Alter’s new book, The Promise: President Obama, Year One, explaining how he lost control of the political momentum early in his administration, claiming that the unanimous Republican opposition in the House of Representatives to his stimulus spending bill “set the tenor for the whole year.”

“That helped to create the tea-baggers and empowered that whole wing of the Republican Party to where it now controls the agenda for Republicans.”

Because the Democrat party was alone in passing the stimulus and then the budget and then the healthcare spending bill, the Democrats alone own the increasingly unpopular issue of overspending.

Obama is determined not to repeat this mistake when he moves to massively raise taxes after the 2010 election.

He needs cover, a useful idiot, a high profile Republican who can stand with him in the Rose Garden when he endorses a VAT and higher income taxes and energy taxes. He wants Republican fingerprints on the murder weapon. The Democrats are stuck with their ownership of overspending. They want to share the blame for the taxes to pay to continue their overspending.

To try and lure Republicans into a repeat of the Andrews Air Force Base negotiations that tricked President George H.W. Bush in 1990 to join hands with the Democrats to raise taxes to pay for higher spending, Obama has built a mousetrap he calls the “National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform”.

Obama chose Democrat apparatchik Erskine Bowles as the Democrat co-chairman of this 18-member “commission” which, as Donald Lambro noted in HUMAN EVENTS, is heavily weighted down with tax increasers. Bowles has already said the point of the commission is to recommend tax hikes. Another Obama appointee, Alice Rivlin, said she wants to raise taxes “in a pro-growth way.”

 

Who to pick for the role of Republican enabler/collaborator? Obama chose former Wyoming Sen. Al Simpson. Why? Some have suggested that former Sen. Simpson has played Charlie Brown to the tax increasing Democrat’s Lucy and her football several times already. In 1990, Al Simpson voted to raise the top income-tax rate from 28% to 31% as part of the Andrews Air Force base deal. America was promised two dollars of spending reductions for every dollar of tax hikes. Taxes went up and so did spending.

In 1988, Simpson voted for the ill-fated Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act that would charge seniors a surtax of 15% of their annual income tax liability. This so enraged elderly taxpayers that Congress then abolished the very entitlement they had enacted only months before.

In 1986, Simpson opposed President Ronald Reagan’s tax-reform proposal that drastically lowered the top income tax rate from 50% to 28%

Then there was Simpson’s vote for the 1982 TEFRA law that promised three dollars of spending restraint for every dollar of tax increases. The real result: higher taxes and higher spending.

In his last year in office, 1996, Simpson posted a weak 68% score on holding down taxes and spending, according to the National Taxpayers Union, one of the lowest of any Senate Republican. There were 37 Republicans ahead of him.

Obama chose Simpson because of his record. He has enthusiastically backed real tax increases while accepting phony promises to slash spending.

This writer has harped on Simpson’s record of tax hikes and suggested that Simpson is somewhat “grumpy.” Al Simpson responded in the Wall Street Journal on April 6 proclaiming “I got the best damn record on no taxes of any son-of-a-bitch in the Senate.”

Simpson could allay the fears of American taxpayers by stating clearly that he will vote in the commission for spending reductions and against any and all efforts to raise taxes. That would put the matter to rest. This is exactly what he has refused to do.

Oddly Simpson has tried to make his policy differences with taxpayers and me into a personal fight. Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC interviewed Simpson and then tweeted, “wait til you hear what Simpson has to say about norquist on our show tomorrow. Just finished taping. Watch out grover!”

On Mitchell’s show, Simpson launched an attack on me, making faces and funny noises to my concerns that once again he would be party to a “bi-partisan” cover for tax hikes. Simpson claimed “he’s (Grover’s) spending taxpayer money to send out this drivel.” (This was absurdly incorrect. Americans for Tax Reform has never and will never receive taxpayer dollars from any government.)

When Americans for Tax Reform staff requested a correction from the Andrea Mitchell show for Simpson’s incorrect assertion that ATR received taxpayer dollars, Simpson called ATR and left a long rambling voicemail insisting that he meant that since American taxpayers contribute to Americans for Tax Reform he meant that we were supported by voluntary contributions from taxpayers, not “taxpayer dollars” as in government grants. This followed an e-mail attesting to his conservative credentials (skipping over the tax hiking bits).

He kindly ended the e-mail, “See you on the road…You are a formidable opponent! I enjoy the scraps.”

But this is not about Al or me. It is about President Obama wanting his own Marshall Petain or Vidkun Quisling. Why does Al think Obama chose him? For his sense of humor and charming personality? Obama wants a Republican to stand next to him when he calls for imposing a Value Added Tax on America to pay for his overspending.

Al Simpson would serve America and taxpayers well by making it crystal clear that the VAT and tax hikes are not now or ever on the table. Until then we are wise to beware.

Cartoon courtesy of Brett Noel

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