Wednesday, August 5, 2009

• Obama & Middle Class Income Tax Increases

The recession is dealing a hard blow to government revenues with tax receipts expected to drop 18 percent this year. The big question being lathered across the Nation, but not being answered honorably by the Administration, revolves around tax increases. The double-speak and denials are only adding annoyance to the feelings surging around the stress already felt by the taxpayers. Not only will the “middle class” be saddled with fresh tax increases, but so will you and your neighbor if you live in America.

The strategy of repeatedly pretending that only the wealthy are going to pay for the massive spending increases is quickly getting old and not believable. From the mansions in Beverly Hills to the park benches of Central Park, all residents will be sending more dollars to the government in one way or another. This is not about new tobacco or alcohol consumptions taxes, or even about the massive tax-grab that will come from Cap And Trade, this is about new tax measures, and new taxes on everything that can be squeezed for cash starting with your income. Forget the campaign promises you almost believed about middle-class tax cuts, and forget Sunday meet-the-press equivocations by well-trained emissaries like Geithner and Summers. Your taxes are about to increase dramatically.

The Administration is very demonstrably building a government well beyond anything that national revenues will be able to support either in the mid-term, or the long-term. With the Nation stuck in a long-term economic quagmire hurting all taxpayers who are already feeling the weight of chronic tax-creeping, the imposition of obvious and visible new income taxes is politically dangerous. The sophistication of the speciousness will find new levels of creativity during the coming weeks.

The White House will no doubt launch a campaign to “talk-up” the economy in the hope that positive proclamations will make them so. Reality is that unemployment, well above the claimed 10%, is somewhere around 16% when you include “marginally attached workers” as well as those employed “part time for economic reasons,” calculated as the “U-6 rate” by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment increasing is neither a turn around, nor a bottom to the recession, and is a far different reality from the “8% or less” predicted by the Administration when it launched its stimulus program. So much for rose-colored forecasting by economists.

Tax receipts are apparently down by 22 percent on individual incomes, and are down 57 percent on the corporate front. When you blend that with a deficit that will surge to almost $2 trillion this year, and a National debt accelerating past $11.6 trillion, your options are limited. We can assume that cutting federal spending is an ideological impossibility, leaving the government with two principal choices, and neither induces positive tingles up your spine. You can be asked to sacrifice and have your income taxes increased massively, or the dollar’s value can be allowed to drop significantly as more of them get printed. The likely path will be a less harmful blend of both of these alternatives. The key will be to allow the dollar’s value to slide gradually so that there are no sudden shocks striking at the heart of national and international markets. International creditors like China will be irritated, but will accede to the gradual process of easing down the dollar. Forget the doomsday scenarios, however, America will take years to work its way out of this recession, then pay off past and current government spending sprees, on its way to growing through the new financial demands on its treasury that will surface over the next decade from baby boomers, social security and healthcare.

In order to initiate an advance on the lengthy economic turnaround, the joy ride of debt-spending-with-wanton-abandon mindset enjoyed by Bush and continued by Obama must be brought to a close. Deficit growth cannot continue on a path exceeding the rate of economic growth. The Administration should surface out of its decision closet, and become resolutely emphatic on a course of action that will reverse the deficit's current trend. Obama’s next address to the Nation should be, “I know I promised that if you made under $250,000 per year, you would not see your taxes increased a single dime. Not your income tax. Not your payroll tax. Not your capital gains tax. No tax. I was wrong. I was hasty in forming that covenant with the electorate. We are a government living beyond its means, with currently no end in sight to the discrepancy. Here is my plan for an overhaul of the tax code, and what it will mean to every single one of you. You can expect your income taxes to increase an average of ten percent, for starters. Now, about a national sales tax, …”

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