The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It's Math

It’s looks as if President Obama and his political advisors are in full campaign mode 15 months before the presidential elections. That, in itself, is unprecedented and unsettling. With our country in severe economic trouble, you’d think the President would spend 100 percent of his time trying to develop effective mechanisms to deal with our problems, rather than campaigning in “battleground states” or attending fund-raisers and the like. How naïve of me!

But in truth, that’s not the core problem. Because he has already begun his campaign, it’s necessary for the President to shift the focus away from a deficit that he has increased by almost 25 percent, away from the economy that has seen 9 percent unemployment for almost two years, and onto something that might galvanize the millions of unemployed and the tens of millions of people who pay no income taxes whatsoever and are reliable Democratic voters.

So in a cynical political ploy, the President has returned to the hard-Left go-to strategy—class warfare. For the past few months, Barack Obama has suggested the “millionaires and billionaires” don’t pay their “fair share.” In fact, against copious evidence to the contrary, he suggests that most folks who earn over $1 million a year pay taxes at a rate that is less than office workers. He uses billionaire Warren Buffet, a man who earns tens of million of dollars from investments, as the poster child for his claim—but how many Warren Buffets are out there? Answer: very, very few.

When accused of class warfare, President Obama bristles and tells us that “It’s not class warfare, it math.”

Being a math person, I liked that, so I checked the math. According to IRS data, the top 1 percent of all taxpayers pay 38 percent of all income taxes. The top 5 percent, pay 58 percent of all income taxes. The top ten percent pay 70 percent of all income taxes. And the bottom 50 percent? They pay about 2.7 percent of all income taxes collected.

Hmmm. Is that balanced? Not a single reporter has asked the President. For the “millionaires and billionaires” in the top 1 percent, is paying almost 40 percent of all income taxes collected somehow not paying your fair share? Is there any “balance” whatsoever in having close to 50 percent of all wage earners pay no income taxes at all?

But it gets worse.

Even if his class warfare arguments were passed by the Congress (there is no chance of this happening), it would do little to reduce the deficit.

But the President tells us it’s math. I guess at Harvard Law School, math is different, because a simple examination of the numbers indicates that the problem is spending, and the President’s proposal does nothing—absolutely nothing—to reduce on-going continuing spending in the short term. Like all politicians he pushes his new taxes and “cuts” out into the future, long after the election.

If Barack Obama persists in this approach (and every indication is that he will), he’ll fall victim to another kind of “math.” That math is the kind that counts votes in November of 2012.