Patty “Thelma” Murray and Barack “Louise” Obama prepare to drive their country and party over a cliff.
Things didn’t end all that well for Thelma and Louise, in the eponymous 1991 Ridley Scott film, as they drove off a cliff in a desperate effort to evade legal and moral responsibility for having transformed themselves from non-descript mediocrities into common criminals. An alarmingly similar political saga, starring Democrats in Washington, D.C., is playing out today — although, unlike Thelma and Louise’s crimes, plundering citizens is, unfortunately, only illegal if you were not elected to do so.
Given President Obama’s deep love for Hollywood (or at least the money of its residents), one would think that he would be aware of the impact, if you will pardon the obvious pun, of driving off a cliff.
Yet Barack “Louise” Obama along with Senator Patty “Thelma” Murray (D-WA) seem hell-bent on taking the economic version of that same road trip, as if they’ve never seen the end of the movie and aren’t smart enough to figure it out.
In a speech at the Brookings Institution on Monday, Murray, the second-ranking Democrat on the do-nothing Senate Budget Committee and Chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, put her foot on the accelerator of the Democrats’ doomed joy-ride, saying that her intent is to prevent any tax rate policy deal in Congress that does not include raising taxes on the “wealthy.” By wealthy, Thelma and Louise mean individuals making over $200,000 per year or families earning over $250,000, a standard that Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and a handful of electorally vulnerable Senate Democrats dislike, but one they will go along with when the time comes to cast a vote.
Raising taxes on the two percent of Americans who already pay about half of all federal income taxes is what strikes Democrats as “balanced”: “[I]f we can’t get a good deal — a balanced deal that calls on the wealthy to pay their fair share — then I will absolutely continue this debate into 2013, rather than lock in a long-term deal this year that throws middle-class families under the bus,” said Thelma.
It takes a particular sort of mind to argue that not raising taxes on Mrs. Smith represents throwing Mr. Jones under the bus. It takes a particular sort of mind to claim that the “wealthy” do not pay their “fair share” when the top one percent of earners pay more in federal income taxes than do the bottom 90 percent. Read that again; it is not a typo.
And it takes a charlatan to imply to voters that this tax hike will have a significant impact on the federal debt and deficit: Even the White House’s own notoriously optimistic assumptions anticipate that the additional revenue due to raising the top two marginal income rates will represent less than seven percent of the coming decade’s cumulative deficits.
It is unlikely to do even that.
As the Cato Institute’s Dan Mitchell puts it, “Behind closed doors, Obama’s people must realize that their class-warfare proposal won’t generate as much revenue as projected. Surely they are familiar with the evidence from the 1980s, and they must know that upper-income people have considerable control over the timing, level, and composition of their income.” Perhaps Dan, despite being as cynical about politicians of both parties as anybody I know, nevertheless gives Democrats too much credit: Part of the left’s “fatal conceit” is their deep belief that history is irrelevant against the force of their wills, their wisdom, and their claims of good intentions.
While noting Thelma Murray’s weasel words, “long-term,” which would give her a face-saving way to jam on the brakes and accept a several-month deal to allow the debate to be had during the next Congress rather than in the lame duck session, it’s safe to say Democrats are playing a dangerous game. Are the brakes on the economic automobile, which is speeding toward the fiscal cliff, strong enough to stop it from going over the edge if Democrats keep their foot on the gas until the last possible moment?
When repeating his tax-hiking goal recently, Louise Obama said, “I’m not proposing anything radical here,” but then the definition of “radical” probably has a different meaning to a disciple of Jeremiah Wright and Saul Alinsky than it does to most Americans.
Or does it?
Our elected Thelma and Louise, and other Democratic leaders — a term I use very loosely — believe that Republicans will feel so much political pressure from being perceived as defending the “rich,” will be so bloodied by the slings and arrows of class warfare, that they will cave.
House and Senate Republicans, to their credit, show no sign of weakening. Nevertheless, guided as Democrats are by polls their view is understandable. In what can best be thought of as a damning indictment of Americans’ economic literacy, recent surveys by Rasmussen and Pew suggest that a plurality of our countrymen support the soak-the-rich, beggar-thy-neighbor views of Thelma Murray and Louise Obama, believing that raising taxes on the “rich” would benefit both the economy and “tax fairness.” Thelma and Louise economics, however, will do to your job (unless you work in foreclosures) what the movie characters did to their car.
Republicans make a sound argument about the economic impact of raising taxes, particularly on job creation. But they haven’t made the argument frequently or well enough, nor are they addressing the “fairness” claim, one that fewer Americans would buy into if they had even the most basic understanding of the true structure of our tax code.
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.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?