Last minute, pre-election rhetorical note

by John Holbo on November 4, 2008

Pejman Yousefzadeh: “Vote to remind a certain Presidential candidate that he and his surrogates can’t get away with the claim that they only intend to raise taxes on the rich.”

I guess Pejman Yousefzadeh endorses Barack Obama for President. Because, after all, the only way to hold Obama accountable for claiming that he only intends to raise taxes on the rich is, presumably, to gather evidence that this was not his true intention. I fail to see how it will be possible to gather more evidence about his true intentions than we’ve got already if he loses.

But seriously: I think it’s significant that the complaint against Obama is not that his tax plan is bad (who would say that, if they wanted to win over voters?) No, the complaint has to be that Obama’s tax plan isn’t Obama’s. Republicans have had such a rhetorical advantage on the tax question for decades that it’s remarkable to see them so hobbled this time out. That’s change I can believe in!



uptown 11.04.08 at 8:17 am

“…they only intend to raise taxes on the rich.”

They just can’t get it into their heads that they and their little friends couldn’t pay enough taxes to even matter. The rich in the USA are now very rich.


yoyo 11.04.08 at 8:57 am

And, the other part of the post is “vote maccain because we have to continue ridiculously expensive imperialism” – because doing that will lead to secret tax cuts.


Andrew 11.04.08 at 9:05 am

My boss is a republican, and I hear this pretty often:

“Barack Obama says he is only going to raise taxes for X Y and Z, but if you read the undertones, he’s definitely going to raise the A B and C tax for everyone.”

It’s going to be fun at work.


Chris Bertram 11.04.08 at 9:20 am

“he and his surrogates”

Thats’s an especially nasty touch, isn’t it? Evull regimes (Syria, Iran) have surrogates.


Michael Turner 11.04.08 at 10:23 am

I’m not sure exactly what Malcom X’s Love Child and his Meat Puppets have been saying about his tax plans. I do know that in response to a recent post by Paul Krugman criticizing Holtz-Eakin for saying Obama’s plans would cost the U.S. economy 6 million jobs, I wrote the following:

Where does this supposed loss of 6 million jobs come from? The American Heritage Center for Data Analysis that Holtz-Eakin (apparently) cites offers a report on projected effects of the Obama and McCain tax plans, and this concludes only that the McCain plan would create about one (two?) million more jobs than the Obama plan, over 10 years. Even accepting the CDA analysis at face value, that’s still one (two?) million fewer jobs created, not six million jobs destroyed. Here’s the passage:

“Job growth over the 10-year forecast horizon is more than twice as high under McCain’s plan than under Obama’s. Total employment grows an average of 915,800 jobs under Obama, and by 2,126,000 under McCain. Both plans encourage job creation in each year of the forecast, but McCain’s approach leads to significantly larger job growth, and sooner. By 2018, McCain’s plan, which makes the Bush tax reductions permanent and lowers the tax rate on corporate profits, creates an additional 3,426,500 jobs. Senator Obama, however, raises taxes on many of the economy’s key investors and business owners. Job growth under his plan for that same year is lower, at 1,576,200.”

Where could Holtz-Eakin be getting this “six million destroyed” from? Six million destroyed, six million destroyed … hm … why, come to think of it, that one does rings a distant bell after all. It could be we have your basic dog-whistle politics plus Godwin’s Law situation here, perhaps directed at Jewish voters in Florida this time.


Slocum 11.04.08 at 10:32 am

The rich in the USA are now very rich.

But what the US government taxes is income, not wealth. And the income of the top few percent of taxpayers is heavily dependent on sources (capital gains, stock options, bonuses, 2-and-20 hedge fund fees, partnership distributions) that, in turn, are highly dependent on profits and economic growth, and these can be expected to shrink substantially during a downturn (much more so than salary income and payroll taxes).

So skepticism is certainly warranted that Obama will be able to keep the promise to raise taxes only on those earning over $250K and also pay for his proposed programs. The math didn’t work before the financial crisis, and it really doesn’t add up now. So one of the possible motivation in claiming loudly and repeatedly, that Obama’s lying and will really raise taxes on those making much less than $250K is to make it difficult for Obama to do this after elected — to try to make sure that such ‘flexibility’ would be very costly politically.

Setting a high bar for what constitutes ‘rich’ was a shrewd political move on Obama’s part (at least in the short term) as it tended to give him protection against Republic attacks on taxes and class warfare. But that decision may come back to bite him in the ass in terms of the additional tax revenue that he’ll be able to generate and spend.


Cycledoc 11.04.08 at 10:43 am

It’s patriotic to go to war and of course we must support the troops, BUT it’s unpatriotic to pay taxes to pay for it. Let our grand kids do it?


Lex 11.04.08 at 11:12 am

I suppose it’s at least encouraging at some level that people with names like Pejman Yousefzadeh are allowed to be in favour of McCain/Palin. Some of the campaign rhetoric has, after all, clearly suggested that just being a little bit foreign is plain wrong…


John Quiggin 11.04.08 at 12:15 pm

It’s obvious that whoever is elected, taxes are going to have to go up a lot to pay for the bailout, the accumulated debts of the Bush wars and the rising cost of health care. Obama saying only the rich (and tax-dodging corporations) will have to pay is marginally less spurious than McCain suggesting that cutting earmarks will do the trick, but only marginally.


Slocum 11.04.08 at 2:35 pm

It’s obvious that whoever is elected, taxes are going to have to go up a lot…

Raising taxes ‘a lot’ in the midst of the deep recession we’re probably headed for? Doesn’t seem like an obviously smart economic (or political) move to me.


J Thomas 11.04.08 at 3:10 pm

Raising taxes ‘a lot’ in the midst of the deep recession we’re probably headed for? Doesn’t seem like an obviously smart economic (or political) move to me.

If the rest of the world *can* impose “the argentine solution” on us, *will* they impose “the argentine solution”?

If so, it doesn’t matter what the President of the USA thinks is smart.


John Quiggin 11.04.08 at 7:54 pm

Slocum, I was a bit too short. It’s necessary to run big deficits during the recession, but that means a bigger accumulated debt coming out of it.

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