Higher taxes for the rich will not pay for Obama’s spending plans

Representative Michele Bachmann
Representative Michele Bachmann

On her official Townhall.com blog, Michele Bachmann asks whether Obama will ever be able to find money to pay for all the spending he has announced.

To pay for the trillions in spending that President Obama and his Congressional Democrat allies have passed and are about to pass in the months ahead, our President has assured us that taxes on Americans making less than $250,000 will not be raised by “one single dime.” His plan is to increase the tax rates on Americans making more than $250k a year to offset the spending. But is this even statistically feasible was the question the Wall Street Journal set out to answer?

She links to this story in the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ piece notes that Obama’s current plans to raise taxes won’t pay for the spending:

Note that federal income taxes are already “progressive” with a 35% top marginal rate, and that Mr. Obama is (so far) proposing to raise it only to 39.6%, plus another two percentage points in hidden deduction phase-outs. He’d also raise capital gains and dividend rates, but those both yield far less revenue than the income tax. These combined increases won’t come close to raising the hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue that Mr. Obama is going to need.

But there just isn’t enough money to pay for the spending even if we take 100% of the earnings of those who make only $75,000 and up.

A tax policy that confiscated 100% of the taxable income of everyone in America earning over $500,000 in 2006 would only have given Congress an extra $1.3 trillion in revenue. That’s less than half the 2006 federal budget of $2.7 trillion and looks tiny compared to the more than $4 trillion Congress will spend in fiscal 2010. Even taking every taxable “dime” of everyone earning more than $75,000 in 2006 would have barely yielded enough to cover that $4 trillion.

And as usual Democrats are ignorant of the fact that when you raise taxes on wealthiest producers, they stop producing, so the tax revenues actually go down. Not only that, but all of this tax and spend socialism destroys economic growth – so that tax revenues are reduced even further.

Fast forward to this year (and 2010) when the Wall Street meltdown and recession are going to mean far few taxpayers earning more than $500,000. Profits are plunging, businesses are cutting or eliminating dividends, hedge funds are rolling up, and, most of all, capital nationwide is on strike. Raising taxes now will thus yield far less revenue than it would have in 2006.

And the cap-and-trade scheme he announced earlier is going to hurt the economy even more by raising prices on energy production.

The bottom line is that Mr. Obama is selling the country on a 2% illusion. Unwinding the U.S. commitment in Iraq and allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire can’t possibly pay for his agenda. Taxes on the not-so-rich will need to rise as well.

On that point, by the way, it’s unclear why Mr. Obama thinks his climate-change scheme won’t hit all Americans with higher taxes. Selling the right to emit greenhouse gases amounts to a steep new tax on most types of energy and, therefore, on all Americans who use energy. There’s a reason that Charlie Rangel’s Ways and Means panel, which writes tax law, is holding hearings this week on cap-and-trade regulation.

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