Paul L. Caron

Monday, July 11, 2011

WSJ: Obama Wants $1 Trillion in New Taxes on Top of ObamaCare's New Taxes

Wall Street Journal editorial, Taxes Upon Taxes Upon . . .:

Obama wants $1 trillion in taxes on top of what he's already signed.

So the fondest Washington hopes for a grand debt-limit deal have broken down over taxes. House Speaker John Boehner said late Saturday that he couldn't move ahead with a $4 trillion deal because President Obama was insisting on a $1 trillion tax increase, and the White House quickly denounced House Republicans for scuttling debt reduction and preventing "the very wealthiest and special interests from paying their fair share." ...

We think Mr. Boehner is making the sensible choice. No one wants to reform the tax code more than we do, but passing a $1 trillion tax increase first on the promise of tax reform later is a political trap. ...

Keep in mind that Mr. Obama has already signed the largest tax increase since 1993. While everyone focuses on the Bush tax rates that expire after 2012, other tax increases are already set to hit the economy thanks to the 2010 Affordable Care Act. As a refresher, here's a non-exhaustive list of ObamaCare's tax increases:

  • A 3.8% Medicare tax increase:  application of the 2.9% Medicare tax to investment income (including dividends, interest, and capital gains), plus an additional 0.9% for singles who earn more than $200,000 and couples making more than $250,000
  • A 2.3% excise tax on medical device manufacturers and importers
  • A new annual fee on "branded" drug makers and importers
  • Raising the floor on allowable medical deductions to 10% of AGI (from 7.5%)
  • A 40% "excise tax" on high-cost health insurance plans
  • A new annual fee on health insurance providers
There are numerous other new taxes in the bill, all adding up to some $438 billion in new revenue over 10 years. But even that is understated because by 2019 the annual revenue increase is nearly $90 billion, or $900 billion in the 10 years after that. Yet Mr. Obama wants to add another $1 trillion in new taxes on top of this.

The economic ironies are also, well, rich. Mr. Obama is now pushing to reduce the payroll tax by two-percentage points for another year to boost the economy, but he's already built in a big increase in that same payroll tax for 2013. So if a payroll tax cut creates jobs this year, why doesn't a payroll tax increase destroy jobs after 2013? ...

We think this was the President's spend-and-tax plan from the very first. Run up spending and debt in the name of stimulus and health-care reform, then count on Wall Street bond holders and the political establishment to browbeat Republicans into paying for it all. He apparently didn't figure on the rise of the tea party, or 1.9% GDP growth and 9.2% unemployment two years after the recession ended.

Last November Republicans won the House and landslide gains in many states in large part because of the deep unpopularity of the stimulus and ObamaCare. Mr. Boehner has a mandate for spending cuts and repealing the Affordable Care Act. If Republicans instead agree to raise taxes in return for future spending cuts that may or may not happen, they will simply be the tax collectors for Mr. Obama's much expanded entitlement society.

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