“You don't raise taxes in a recession...because that would just suck up, take more demand out of the economy and put businesses in a further hole.”
—President Barack Obama,August 2009
Then vs. Now
Because the president’s policies have failed and are making the economy worse, he cannot plausibly stand on his record. Sadly, the president is instead turning to the politics of envy and division with increasingly frequent demands to tax small businesses and job creators by raising the tax rates on the top income brackets. A recent report by Ernst & Young indicated that the president’s latest tax hike on small businesses could cost the economy over 700,000 jobs.
The president’s call for job-destroying taxes is all the more perplexing given his own position(s) with respect to tax rates and the economy over the past few years. Particularly in the context of the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression, President Obama wants to raise taxes on struggling Americans at a time when they can least afford it.
Holding the Line on Taxes—A Timeline
August 2009: In an interview with NBC, the president said in response to a question on raising taxes in a weak economy, “You don't raise taxes in a recession...because that would just suck up, take more demand out of the economy and put businesses in a further hole.” The president was correct, and, although not yet known at the time, the economy was just emerging from recession in the 3rd quarter of 2009, growing at a rate of 1.7 percent according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Curiously, with GDP growth in the 1st quarter of this year at a paltry 1.9 percent, the president apparently believes the economy is now robust enough to withstand higher taxes. Millions of Americans more attuned to economic reality than community organizing know better.
December 2010: With expiration of the 2001/03 tax cuts looming, threatening to increase the taxes of all Americans on January 1, 2011, and derail an economy then growing at only 2.3 percent, President Obama negotiated, and ultimately signed into law, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, which extended all of the tax rates for an additional two years. In the debate over this bill, the president stated publicly:
“The bipartisan framework we have forged on taxes…will provide businesses with incentives to invest, grow, and hire…Every economist I have talked to or read over the last couple of days acknowledges that this agreement would boost economic growth in the coming years and has the potential to create millions of jobs," Obama continued. "But if this framework fails, the reverse is true. Americans will see it in smaller paychecks that will have the effect of fewer jobs." (emphasis added)
Conspicuously absent at the time were the president’s arguments for raising taxes on job creators and small businesses in the name of “fairness.”
July 2012: As new signals of economic weakness are reported with distressing frequency, private economists are revising down projections for economic growth in 2012—some as low as 1.1 percent for this quarter. Even Federal Reserve officials have said growth for the year may not be more than 2 percent. By demanding that the top income tax rates increase or else—see Sen. Patty Murray’s (D-WA) proposal to let all tax rates increase on January 1, 2013—it is ironic that Democrats in Congress are now “holding the economy hostage,” something Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) bemoaned just less than one year ago.
With their illogic on taxes President Obama and his Democrat allies in Congress are choosing to ignore both sound economics and their own public policy precedents, and, in doing so, may substantiate the majority of Americans who believe the economy is still in recession.
House Republicans know that Americans want a solution to our jobs crisis and historically slow economic growth, not division, distraction, or excuses. That’s why we have the Plan for America’s Job Creators, which includes dozens of bills that will grow the economy and create jobs. That’s why we oppose the president’s plan to raise taxes on small businesses and have voted for fundamental tax reform to get rid of all tax loopholes and make our tax code fairer, flatter, and simpler. It’s time for President Obama and Senator Reid to stop blocking these bipartisan bills in the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate. Without fostering economic growth, it will only get worse for hard-working Americans who struggle in President’s Obama’s economy.