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Obama's Middle Class Betrayal

A Commentary By Howard Rich

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

As much as the Beltway chattering class refuses to admit it, Barack Obama's electoral victory last year had nothing to do with his oft-repeated, generic pledge to bring "hope and change" to Washington, D.C. Sure it sounded good at the time, but Americans have always voted based on their wallets and pocketbooks – not lofty-sounding campaign promises or rhetorical flourishes.

The real key to Obama's victory a year ago – indeed his "signature" issue – was his promise not to raise taxes on the middle class.

"You will not see any of your taxes increase one single dime," Obama promised tens of millions of Americans making $250,000 or less. In fact, candidate Obama promised the middle class billions of dollars in tax cuts, part of his whole "spread the wealth around" plan.

"If you're a family that's making $250,000 a year or less, you will see no increase in your taxes," Obama promised. "Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your personal gains tax, not any of your taxes."

Never mind the fact that Obama's plan would have hit income and payroll providers especially hard, rendering "middle class tax relief" irrelevant to the millions of workers heading toward already-crowded unemployment lines.

No matter how you look at it, though, what a difference a year makes.

As an unprecedented string of multibillion-dollar government bailouts and a viral explosion of new discretionary spending continues to wreak havoc on the deficit, does it really surprise anyone to learn that Obama's "middle class tax cut" was the very first thing to wind up on the cutting room floor?

Of course not. "Class warfare" may have succeeded in getting Obama elected, but it cannot pay for the political promises Obama has made with our borrowed billions.

But that is just the beginning of the great middle class betrayal. Not only are middle class American families getting no tax relief, Obama administration officials are refusing to rule out the possibility that taxes on middle class families will actually increase in an effort to help the government pay for all of this new spending.

So much for Obama's plan to "bleed the rich" in order to fund middle class tax relief – now everyone must bleed as the President and his Congressional allies scramble to pay for all that "hope and change" they've created.

Aside from the obvious demerits of "Robin Hood-style" tax policy (it's never a good idea to go after the people creating the jobs, is it?), the reality is that Obama's now-scrapped middle class "tax cut" would have barely made a dent when compared to costly new government mandates being forced upon American families.

For example, according to an unreleased report prepared by Obama's own Treasury Department, the cost of the administration's "cap and trade" energy tax on the typical American household came out to $1,761 a year. On top of that, we learned this week that the latest multibillion-dollar proposal to "reform" the health care industry would cost the typical American family of four over $4,000 a year by the time the plan is fully implemented.

Altogether, that's nearly $6,000 a year in additional energy and health care costs being heaped on American families struggling to make ends meet during one of the worst recessions in our nation's history – again, with no tax relief to offset the additional financial burden.

Based on these numbers, it seems clear that the American middle class was (and is) nothing but a means to an end for Obama.

It also seems clear that rich or poor, Obama's plan to "rescue" the American economy involves taxing all of us back to the Stone Age.

Howard Rich is chairman of Americans for Limited Government.

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Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports.

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