Throughout the campaign, then Senator Obama delivered a variation of this pledge:
"I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes." --Barack Obama
I've been watching a historical drama of the years Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain led Britain to the threshold of disaster in the late 1930's. At one point, Neville is pressed on a pledge he made to repair Britain's defenses. He responds: "A pledge doesn't mean it's forever."
Months ago, most of us learned that the promises Barack Obama made as a candidate were never intended as solemn vows. More like campaign slogans that can be discarded as readily as an American flag at an Obama rally. At the beginning of April President Obama signed the bill which was the single largest increase in tobacco taxes in history. That tax mostly impacted the poor and black Americans who are more likely to smoke.
Obama often signals his intention to abandon another campaign pledge by suggesting his stance on an issue is evolving. That language is being used again in the discussion over taxing health care benefits and also mandating same style health plans for everyone (something candidate Obama opposed).
At Wednesday's Obama
Q: Rob on Twitter said, "Does it really make sense, Mr. President, to tax me on my health care coverage?"In between all the usual Obama doublespeak one clear message rings out: TAXES WILL GO UP! And if you think only the rich will be paying higher taxes, think again.
OBAMA: let me describe for you how this argument has evolved and where I've stood on it in the past and what's being debated in Congress.
Now, nobody at this point is -- or not many folks are talking about taxing benefits or completely eliminating the exclusion. What they are calling for now in Congress is to cap the exclusion so that people who have very high-priced health care, at a certain point they can only get a deduction up to a certain point, right? So let's say that the average health care cost for families -- a good health care plan costs $13,000. What they would say is the employer and the employee get an exclusion up to $13,000, but if you get some Cadillac plan that costs $17,000, then what we're going to do is you're going to have to pay taxes on that last $4,000. And the idea that is being debated in Congress right now is, is that a good way to ensure that people don't have these big Cadillac plans but instead have more sensible plans?
Now, I don't think -- and by the way, that also raises some money. So this has been offered as an alternative way to pay for that extra one-third of health care that we're not able to pay for through simply reallocating money.
I think the better way to do it remains the proposal I have to cap itemized deductions. I think that is a way that we can ensure that people who currently have health care aren't suddenly seeing the costs go up to pay for other people's costs going down, but instead everybody's costs can go down effectively.
Yes, think again next time you walk into a dark room and turn on the lights or start your car. Under the cap and tax energy bill that narrowly passed the House of Representatives last week every American will pay more for energy and every product and service with an energy component (that's everything).
Will Obama be Held Accountable for Breaking His Pledge?
Readers old enough to remember will recall how the first President Bush paid dearly for breaking his "read my lips, no new taxes" pledge. Will Obama be held to the same standard? Unlikely. With most Americans seemingly more interested in the latest celebrity tragedy than with how much Democrats are stealing from their pockets, any political points on this issue made by Republicans is likely to be ignored.
Still, there remain enough mushy middle ground voters of above average intelligence who are beginning to realize this isn't the "hope and change" they voted for. And if we keep pounding the drum, those numbers will continue to grow.
Keep pounding the drum!