from Jeff Jacoby at the Boston Globe
Seeing through Obamanomics
By Jeff Jacoby
Globe Columnist / September 14, 2008
Taxation is not generosity, it is confiscation at gunpoint. Does Obama not understand the difference?
Perhaps he doesn’t. Eager though he may be to compel “neighborliness” in others, he has not been nearly so avid about demonstrating it himself. Barack and Michelle Obama’s tax returns show that from 2000 through 2004, when their adjusted gross income averaged nearly a quarter of a million dollars a year, their annual charitable donations amounted to just $2,154 — less than nine-tenths of 1 percent. Not until he entered the US Senate in 2005 and began to be spoken of as a presidential possibility did the Obamas’ “neighborliness” become more evident. (In 2005-2007, they gave 5.5 percent of their income to charity.)
Obama claims his proposal would lower taxes for 95 percent of Americans, but well over 43 million tax returns, one-third of all those filed, already reflect an income tax liability of zero. In fact, Obama says, his plan would eliminate income taxes for an additional 10 million taxpayers.
What he is really proposing, therefore, is not tax relief but a bald transfer of cash — $1,000 per family, he pledges — from the wealthiest Americans to everyone else. In 1972, George McGovern advocated something similar — a $1,000 “demogrant” for every US citizen. Just last year, Hillary Clinton suggested that the government start off every new baby with a $5,000 savings account. Voters didn’t take the bait when McGovern and Clinton offered it. Here’s betting they won’t take it now.
Why not? Because you don’t have to be rich to be skeptical when a candidate argues that the top 1 percent of taxpayers, who earn 22 percent of the income in this country but pay 40 percent of the income taxes, aren’t being taxed enough. Nor do you have to be an economist to wonder about the grasp of a nominee who tells 95 percent of the public that they can have something for nothing. Obamanomics may look pretty at first glance. But voters are focusing more closely now, and they can see beyond the lipstick.