The Current Crisis

Obama vs. Christie and the Future

One wants to raise taxes. The other will cut them. 

By 1.19.12

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WASHINGTON -- Whose job would you want to have? Would it be President Barack Obama's, whose budget woes are getting graver? Or would it be New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's, whose budget is at least looking to be survivable?

Now President Obama is facing the choice in his budgetary decisions. Does he raise taxes only on families making $1 million a year, or does he, as he has heretofore promised, raise taxes on families making $250,000. Governor Christie has had an easier choice. He has promised a 10 percent cut on every New Jerseyan's income. He has "stopped the bleeding" in New Jersey. He has cut 375 government programs. He has capped property taxes. He has confronted public employees with reasonable cuts in their bloated health care and pension benefits. It is all part of what he terms "the New Jersey comeback." New Jersey's state budget was a kind of Ponzi scheme when he came to office, and time was running out. Now he has the budget back on track, and it is time for a tax cut for everyone.

Interestingly, his Democratic opponents in the state legislature say the cut amounts to a pittance. It means a mere $275 for families earning $100,000. Their alternative is a tax increase, but only on millionaires. My guess is that a goodly number of New Jerseyans will see thorough this. The Democrats began their binge by raising taxes on the very rich. Yet, there was not enough money to pay for their munificence by taxing the very rich. So the Democrats worked their way down to the middle class, and the result was the economic basket case from which Governor Christie is now freeing all New Jerseyans.

President Obama has to make his decision by early next month when he decides on his budget: raise taxes on everyone making over $250,000 a year or only on millionaires? Of course, in 2010 he took a dreadful drubbing at the polls on taxes and it could happen again. Some Democrats have agreed with the Republicans. They say people making $200,000 to $250,000 are not making that much money, particularly if you live in a place like New York.

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer has seen the light. He has said of people with such incomes, "They are not rich, and in large parts of the country, that kind of income does not get you a big home or lots of vacation or anything else that's associated with wealth in America." And he went on, "They are firmly in the middle class. Same with small-business owners in that class."

What will our President do? I say he will include families making $250,000 in his tax cuts. Moreover, if reelected he will increase taxes on the middle class. President Obama is a redistributionist. He believes more ardently in redistributing wealth than in creating it. Follow the course of Mr. Obama's earlier redistributionist, Franklin Roosevelt, and you will know the direction in which Mr. Obama is going. In the current issue of The American Spectator Burton W. Folsom, Jr. and Anita Folsom write that FDR "lamented" in the late 1940s that "Too many people are earning money and not contributing to the government." Thus he and his New Dealers got to work raising taxes. From "1940 to 1942, the number of Americans paying income taxes jumped almost ten fold, from 4 million to 39 million. Furthermore, the starting tax rate skyrocketed from 4 percent to almost 24 percent." No wonder FDR is one of Obama's heroes.

Yet Obama is a reactionary. He believes in the past, a past of vast government control of the economy, redistribution, and slow growth. Christie and Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin believe in growth. The future is theirs.

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About the Author
R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is the founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is the author of The Death of Liberalism, published by Thomas Nelson Inc. His previous books include the New York Times bestseller Boy Clinton: the Political Biography; The Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton; The Liberal Crack-Up; The Conservative Crack-Up; Public Nuisances; The Future that Doesn't Work: Social Democracy's Failure in Britain; Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House; The Clinton Crack-Up; and After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery.