False Pretenses

Byron York catches up with John McCain to revisit the distant past–late 2008–when Barack Obama was a budget hawk:

Barack Obama used to get very upset about federal budget deficits. Denouncing an “orgy of spending and enormous deficits,” he turned to John McCain during their presidential debates last fall and said, “We have had, over the last eight years, the biggest increases in deficit spending and national debt in our history…Now we have a half-trillion deficit annually…and Sen. McCain voted for four out of five of those George Bush budgets.”

That was then. Now, President Obama is asking lawmakers to vote for a budget with a deficit three times the size of the one that so disturbed candidate Obama just a few months ago. And Obama foresees, for years to come, deficits that dwarf those he felt so passionately about way, way back in 2008.

Inevitable consequences flow from those projected deficits:

I asked McCain what might happen if Obama and Orszag get their way. First, the U.S. could have to print a lot of new money, “running the huge risk of inflation and returning to the situation of the 1970s, only far worse,” McCain said. The second option is to raise taxes.

Alice Rivlin, Bill Clinton’s budget director, agrees that the deficits contemplated by Obama’s budget are unsustainable, and will require higher taxes–and not just on the “rich.” Byron comments:

Of course, that’s what McCain said during the campaign. And it’s what the much-maligned Joe the Plumber said, too. Remember when he took so much flak for objecting to Obama’s plan to raise taxes only on those Americans making more than $250,000 a year? Joe didn’t make anything near that, the critics said, so why was he worrying?

The point was not that Joe made that much, or that anybody at McCain’s rallies made that much — the vast majority didn’t. The point was that Obama was promising so many things that to pay for them he would eventually have to raise taxes on people making far less than $250,000. Look out, McCain warned — someday he’ll come after you.

And now that’s where we appear to be headed.

The voters have figured out that Obama is coming after their pocketbooks, too. A new Rasmussen survey finds that 66 percent think Obama is likely to raise taxes on people earning less than $250,000 per year. When that happens, as it must unless Congress departs radically from Obama’s current plans, it will be after the present economic downturn has ended. Which, one would think, will make it a tough sell and the occasion for considerable buyer’s remorse.


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