On first looking into Obama's proposal on tax hikes!


Ashley and Michael and the rest of gang weren't built for a topic like this: We eagerly read Kevin Drum every day because you can learn real things from his posts.

Yesterday, Good Drum did an informative post about Obama’s proposal for tax increases. His post went something like this:
DRUM (11/13/12): Obama just won reelection. So what's his offer [for tax increases] now? $1.6 trillion over ten years. Take that, Republicans! The reaction from liberals has been generally positive: they're impressed that Obama is opening with a strong hand and upping the ante now that he has a mandate from the public.

But there's really no news here. Obama's proposal is the same one he campaigned on....Here are the big ticket items:
At this point, Drum detailed Obama’s basic proposals. You can survey them yourselves.

So far, so good! But to our ear, Imperfect Drum closed his post in a lightly scolding, almost imperious manner:
DRUM: Bottom line: there's nothing special about this proposal. It's pretty much the same as the one in his 2013 budget, and it's pretty much the same one he's been running on for the past year. It surely didn't come as any surprise to Boehner or the rest of the Republican caucus, and it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone else either.
Obama seeks $1.6 trillion in tax increases, just as he has done all year. But here’s our question:

Should that fact “be a surprise” to average voters?

Drum said it shouldn’t be a surprise. Incomparably, we devised a test. Using Nexis, we conducted a search for the truth, using these devilish search terms:

“Obama AND $1.6 trillion.”

Our results were these:

If you read the Washington Post, you were told that Obama seeks that $1.6 trillion in this morning’s paper. Previously, the last time that figure was mentioned was February 14—in an editorial!

If you read the New York Times, you were given that same information this morning. We see no reference to that amount at any other time this year.

Let’s be fair! On six occasions before the election, the Post referred to Obama’s proposal for $1.5 trillion in tax increases. Those references came on the following dates: February 11 and 13; April 14 and 21; September 7 and October 4.

We find five such cites in the glorious Times, on February 11, 13 and 14; April 1 and 17.

We can't find any other figure that these newspapers might have used. We find no sign that USA Today ever got itself into these weeds at all.

We’ll guess that many people will be surprised to learn that Obama is seeking, and has been seeking, $1.6 trillion (or thereabouts) in tax increases. Within our press corps, this past campaign was not about such utterly tedious trivia.

Mitt Romney’s utterly phony “tax proposal” got a ginormous pass in the press. This proposal by Obama didn’t seem to get much coverage either.

In the press corps, this presidential campaign was about dogs and horses and houses in La Jolla and offhand remarks on a wide range of topics. The press corps’ children gamboled and played. Voters were encouraged to ignore all else, especially when reading the Times.

Romney’s utterly phony tax rate “proposal” got a pass. His proposal to eliminate the estate tax was barely mentioned at all. (Hint: Newspaper owners are wealthy.)

We aren’t surprised if folk are surprised to hear what Obama has been seeking. Ashley and Michael and the rest of the gang weren’t built for a topic like this.

For extra credit: For extra credit, we recommend "On first looking into Chapman's Homer" (click here). As Keats was shocked to "breathe [the] pure serene" provided by Chapman's deathless translation, so too many readers will be surprised to learn what Obama has been proposing all along.

Ashley and Michaal and the gang aren't likely to mention the Keats sonnet either. At some point, Maureen surely will.


  1. Also, let's not that Obama's proposed tax increase isn't even fully adquate. We're talking $160 billion per year vs. a current year deficit of $1,100 billion. And that tax increase wouldn't reduce the deficit dollar for dollar, because it would depress the economy to a degree.

    I'm not arguing against Obama's proposal, just observing the severity of our federal budget problem.

    1. And the problem is so severe that it will require BOTH a revenue increase and a spending decrease.

      And sorry, but it seems as though a majority of voters have tumbled onto the "increasing revenue by cutting taxes" scam. Sometimes history is a terribly slow teacher.

    2. "just observing the severity of our federal budget problem"

      Well, then you're an idiot, because what a number is -- say, $1,100 billion -- doesn't reveal anything about what it means.

      Though you so confidently assume it, nothing is less self-evident than the unsupported assertion that this deficit, or the accumulated federal debt to date, is much of a "problem" at all.

      What's the evidence for it actually being a problem?

      Perhaps the greater problem at present would be running too small of a deficit!

      Some whose thinking is more coherent than "David in Cal" have persuasively argued so.

  2. Raising taxes on the rich was the only substantive proposal Obama advanced during the whole campaign. How could anyone be surprised?

    1. Which would give Obama, if true, exactly one more "substantive" proposal than Romney offered.

    2. Agreed. My point was that if anything was at issue in this election, aside from the raw question of political power, it was Obama's proposal to let the Bush tax cuts expire for the top bracket.

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