Thanks to the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, “taxes are off the table” — and the president can’t stand it.
IN 1986, the taxpayer Protection Pledge was created. The pledge is a written and signed commitment from a candidate for office to his constituents, guaranteeing that the candidate will oppose and vote against any net tax increase.
Twenty-five years later, on August 2, 2011, the pledge stopped President Obama in his tracks.
Obama and congressional Democrats had a plan. They would turn the United States into a European welfare state. Something between Bismarck’s Prussia and modern-day Greece.
But federal spending in the United States had averaged “only” 20 percent of economic output, or Gross Domestic Product (GDP), for the last 40 years. State and local spending added another 10 or 12 percent. To get a really good social welfare state going and make citizens permanently dependent on the state requires spending approaching 52.8 percent of the economy, as in France, or Greece’s 46.8 percent, Sweden’s 52.5 percent, or even Britain’s 47.3 percent.
How to get from here to there?
Democrats were counting on Republicans reverting to type and in a fit of “bipartisanship” and “fiscal responsibility,” once again playing the role Jack Kemp mocked in the 1960s and 1970s — “the tax collectors for the welfare state.”
Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi used the economic crisis created by the selfless bureaucrats at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to dramatically ramp up federal spending. The $800 billion stimulus. A trillion in additional domestic discretionary spending. TARP, part two — another $350 billion. And Obamacare.
Federal spending rose from $2.9 trillion in 2008 to $3.8 trillion in 2011. In the first three years of Team Obama, federal debt rose by $4 trillion. The 2011 deficit was $1.414 trillion, and Obama’s 2011 budget projected a total debt increase of $10.4 trillion over the next decade.
Surely, the Republican Party would do the responsible thing and raise taxes to reduce the deficit. They had always done so in the past. In 1982, Democrats convinced Ronald Reagan to sign a deal that promised to cut spending by three dollars for every dollar of tax increases. In the following five years, taxes would be increased by $215 billion and spending was promised to be reduced by $645 billion. Adjusted for inflation, however, spending actually increased $177 billion above what it would have absent the deal — Reagan had been tricked.
Eight years later, then-president George H. W. Bush was promised two (not three) dollars in spending cuts for every dollar of tax increases (he was a cheaper date). The top tax rate was increased from 28 percent to 31 percent. Taxes were hiked by $137 billion over the next five years, but once again the promised spending reduction of $274 billion melted away. Spending actually increased $23 billion above pre-deal projections.
The Republican learning curve did not appear to be very steep.
But 20 years later, the Republican Party that Obama ran into, led by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), was very different.
IN 1986, AMERICANS for Tax Reform offered the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to all congressional candidates of both parties. During the campaign, Reagan endorsed the pledge in speeches, and campaigned for candidates who signed it. That November, 100 House members and 20 senators were elected, all of whom had made the written commitment to voters not to raise taxes. All were Republicans — except Tom Daschle, who won an upset victory in South Dakota when the Wall Street Journal editorial page highlighted the fact that he had signed the pledge while the Republican incumbent, James Abdnor, had balked.
In 1988, every single Republican running for president signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge — except Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole. During the New Hampshire debate just before the nation’s first primary, Governor Pete du Pont explained that all the other candidates had signed the pledge and challenged Dole to do so also, offering the pledge to Dole, who visibly recoiled, as if a vampire being tossed a cross. Dole subsequently lost New Hampshire.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?