Reason #14: Fiscal Incompetence and Deception
Categories: Putting personal advancement over nation, narcissism, lying to the public
America is, in many ways, in grave danger, and Barack Obama is, in large part, responsible. To be sure, economic trends occur over generations, and Presidents of the United States cannot affect each and every facet of the lives of Americans quickly and positively, however, their policies can worsen already bad situations, and start positive trends on a downward path. Presidents can also, by refusing to act to solve significant national problems, cause enormous damage. That failure to act—and to cover his malfeasance by misdirection–will be a significant part of Mr. Obama’s horrific legacy.
Mr. Obama has been, of late, trying to distract the nation from his serial failings by any means available, such as the Trayvon Martin case and the Hilary Rosen debacle. But one of the distractions that sums up Mr. Obama’s beliefs and approach to governance is his shilling for what has come to be called the “Buffett Rule.” Named for Nebraska billionaire Warren Buffett who famously proclaimed that he pays less (as in a lower tax rate) in income taxes than his secretary, the idea as propounded by Mr. Obama is that if all American millionaires and billionaires paid a given, larger percentage of their earnings in income tax, our deficit problems would be well on their way to being solved. Except, that’s not true, not even remotely true.
So what’s the problem? Mr. Obama never hesitates to lie about any and everything. In this case, the lie is so outrageous, so utterly indefensible and so derisive laughter inducing, he has been forced to admit that it can’t actually help to reduce the deficit, and it might even provide less revenue for the treasury, but he wants to do it anyway for the purpose of “fairness.” Oh yes, it would also apply to “millionaires” making at least $250,000.00 per year, supposedly on the theory that such people make a million dollars pretty quickly.
Let’s turn to Mark Steyn, who recently wrote:
This week’s bit of ham-handed misdirection was ‘the Buffett Rule,’ a not-so-disguised capital-gains tax hike designed to ensure that Warren Buffett pays as much tax as his secretary. If the alleged Sage of Omaha is as exercised about this as his public effusions would suggest, I’d be in favor of repealing the prohibition on Bills of Attainder, and the old boy could sleep easy at night. But instead every other American ‘millionaire’ will be subject to the new rule – because, as President Obama said this week, it ‘will help us close our deficit.’
Wow! Who knew it was that easy?
Capital-gains tax hike? Indeed. Rather than working for wages, the income of most millionaires is entirely in capital gains, which are quite rationally taxed at a different rate, thus the idea that Buffet pays less than his secretary is misleading at best. The two rates are levied on entirely different forms of income for entirely rational reasons. History clearly teaches that when we raise the tax on capital gains, the very engine of capitalism, we not only raise less tax revenue, we discourage investment and damage the economy.
A-hem. According to the Congressional Budget Office (the same nonpartisan bean counters who project that on Obama’s current spending proposals the entire U.S. economy will cease to exist in 2027) Obama’s Buffett Rule will raise – stand well back – $3.2 billion per year. Or what the United States government currently borrows every 17 hours. So in 514 years it will have raised enough additional revenue to pay off the 2011 federal budget deficit. If you want to mark it on your calendar, 514 years is the year 2526. There’s a sporting chance Joe Biden will have retired from public life by then, but other than that I’m not making any bets.
How stupid does Mr. Obama think we are? Pretty stupid as it turns out, according to Steyn:
Sometimes societies become too stupid to survive. A nation that takes Barack Obama’s current rhetorical flourishes seriously is certainly well advanced along that dismal path. The current federal debt burden works out at about $140,000 per federal taxpayer, and President Obama is proposing to increase both debt and taxes. Are you one of those taxpayers? How much more do you want added to your $140,000 debt burden? As the Great Magician would say, pick a number, any number. Sorry, you’re wrong. Whatever you’re willing to bear, he’s got more lined up for you.
Even if you’re absolved from federal income tax, you, too, require enough people willing to keep the racket going, and America is already pushing forward into territory the rest of the developed world is steering well clear of. On April Fools’ Day, Japan and the United Kingdom both cut their corporate tax rates, leaving the United States even more of an outlier, with the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world: The top rate of federal corporate tax in the US is 35 percent. It’s 15 percent in Canada. Which is next door.
But what about fairness? Is it fair if the Buffett Rule can’t possibly do what even Mr. Obama has admitted it can’t do: reduce the deficit?
And that’s the problem. For what Obama’s spending, there aren’t enough of them, or us, or “the rich” – and there never will be. There is only one Warren Buffett. He is the third-wealthiest person on the planet. The first is a Mexican, and beyond the reach of the U.S. Treasury. Mr. Buffett is worth $44 billion. If he donated the entire lot to the Government of the United States, they would blow through it within four-and-a-half days. OK, so who’s the fourth-richest guy? He’s French. And the fifth guy’s a Spaniard. No. 6 six is Larry Ellison. He’s American, but that loser is only worth $36 billion. So he and Buffett between them could keep the United States Government going for a week. The next-richest American is Christy Walton of Wal-Mart, and she’s barely a semi-Buffett. So her $25 billion will see you through a couple of days of the second week. There aren’t a lot of other semi-Buffetts, but, if you scrounge around, you can rustle up some hemi-demi-semi-Buffetts: If you confiscate the total wealth of the Forbes 400 richest Americans it comes to $1.5 trillion, which is just a little less than the Obama budget deficit for year.
It’s that easy, folks! Like President Obama says, all you have to do to pay off his 2011 deficit is save $3.2 billion a year for 500 years.
By all means, take the link and read the entire article. If you’ve never read Steyn’s work, it’s a fine introduction to one of the most intelligent and important writers of our time.
Not only is the Buffett Rule a fiscal joke, it’s politically ineffective. Even Mr. Obama’s supporters are beginning to admit it, according to Byron York:
Washington Post liberal columnist Dana Milbank opened the floodgates mid-week when he published a piece that began, ‘President Obama admits it: His proposed ‘Buffett Rule’ tax on millionaires is a gimmick.’
‘It’s total gimmickry,’ added another prominent voice in journalism, Politico executive editor Jim Vandehei. Speaking on MSNBC, Vandehei noted that the Buffett Rule is ‘one percent of what you need to take care of the deficit. There’s a big danger for President Obama in that they become so insanely political in an insanely political culture…He’s not offered tax reform when he could have offered tax reform. Did not offer budgets when he could have offered budgets.’
Some Democratic politicians agreed. ‘I do question a little bit the priority of doing this right now,” said former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, now running for a Senate seat. Kaine likened enacting the Buffett Rule to “tripping over dollar bills to pick up pennies.’
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Jay Carney was facing skepticism in the press room about the president’s claims. “The president said in September that the Buffett Rule or millionaires taxed would help stabilize the debt and deficits,” one reporter asked last Wednesday. “In a conference call, the White House said the other day that it was not intended to go toward paying down the debt and deficits; that’s handled in the budget. Today the President said, it’s not all we have to do to close the deficit but it will help us close the deficit. So just to be clear, the White House policy on this is what?’
This, of course, didn’t keep White House PR flack Jay Carney from blindly supporting the Obama party line:
Carney defended the Buffett proposal as ‘a basic matter of fairness and economic good sense.’
“Basic fairness and economic good sense.” Right. With a looming fiscal crisis that will bankrupt the nation, and sooner rather than later, Mr. Obama forces through the largest, most ruinous entitlement in world history: Obamacare. When it becomes obvious that every economic claim he made about it was a lie, he doubles down. His party, in violation of federal law, has refused to write a budget for three years, and the two “budgets” Mr. Obama has written were so berserk, so utterly divorced from reality, that not a single Congressional Democrat would vote for them.
Surely, significant motivators for Mr. Obama’s apparent obsession with the Buffett Rule are his socialistic tendencies toward class warfare and “fairness,” combined with his political need to distract attention from his utter lack of accomplishment and his many and growing scandals, but obsessed he is.
And we elected him president.