Mike Hughes: Obama is just getting started
Congratulations to Congressman John Boehner for being re-elected as House Speaker. Arguably through no fault of his own, Boehner was put in a bad situation when President Obama was re-elected for a second, and final, term. We can say “final” thanks to the great foresight of the 80th Congress.
President Truman labeled this Congress the “Do Nothing Congress” not because they didn’t do anything, but because they didn’t do as he wished. The 80th Congress was the best kind to have while a Democrat resides in the White House: Republican-controlled. This Republican Congress proposed and enacted the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, setting a term limit for all future presidents.
Since then, several liberal Democrats, including Barney Frank and Harry Reid, have introduced legislation to repeal the 22nd Amendment. Thankfully again, their attempts have all failed miserably.
There’s been a lot of talk from Democrats who say that going back to Clinton-era tax rates will fix the economy. But Clinton had a Republican-led Congress to keep him in line. Democrats like to say that Clinton raised tax rates, but they never mention the fact that he also made significant cuts to capital gains tax rates. And Clinton’s budget benefited from reduced military spending, however irresponsible, after the end of the Cold War (but never had a true surplus). At the end of Clinton’s final term the national debt remained under $6 trillion.
My, how things have changed.
The Republicans who did so well under Clinton turned out under President Bush to be almost as bad as liberal Democrats. Government has been growing out of control all the while, despite valiant attempts by a few Tea Party Republicans. We’ve had over a decade of increased regulations, and cronyism is more entrenched than ever. Perhaps the only things that have kept our economy going are the Bush tax cuts that liberals called “tax cuts for the rich.” And that brings us back to Boehner’s bad situation.
Due to the unfortunate circumstances of Obama’s re-election and liberal control of the Senate, Boehner was given a choice of raising taxes on everyone or only raising taxes on “the rich.” While it’s hard to imagine what good can come out increasing tax revenues by a tiny fraction of the budget deficit, it’s tempting to think that raising tax rates on upper incomes won’t hurt the economy. But it’s not just this tax increase. It’s this tax increase on top of everything else. And in reality, all of us are affected by that “everything else,” not just the rich.
While Obama had everyone focused on picking the pockets of the rich, payroll taxes went up by 2 percent for workers of all income levels. And Obama has already said that he wants more money: “If Republicans think that I will finish the job of deficit reduction through spending cuts alone, then they’ve got another thing coming.” We’ll be waiting a long time for those spending cuts, so maybe we should be thinking about that other thing coming.
The other thing coming, as the Wall Street Journal put it, is “the tax bill on the private productive part of the economy.”
Mike Hughes is a Navy veteran who lives in High Point. His column appears here every other Sunday. To comment, visit www.hpe.com and click on local commentary. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.