When President Obama was running for office, he pledged not to raise taxes on the middle class. Is he about to go back on his word?
Pundits are screaming that tax cuts for the middle class are “imminent.” I don’t know that I’d go that far.
What all of the hullaballoo is focusing on is this interview between George Stephanopoulos and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner which aired on “This Week.”
In the interview, Stephanopoulos asks Geithner about the current state of the economy and what’s on tap for the future. At one point, Stephanopoulos asks Geithner very pointedly:
The President has said that taxes won’t go up for any Americans earning under $250,000, but it doesn’t appear that he’s going to be able to keep that promise if you’re going to bring the deficits down.
And Geithner didn’t say no. He started his reply by stating, “George, we can’t make these judgments yet about what exactly it’s going to take and we’re going to get there.”
Okay, yes, yes, yes. I get that’s not a no. But it’s hardly a yes either. It doesn’t warrant the headlines that I’m seeing in the press.
If you follow the interview, when Stephanopoulos asks Geithner about reducing the deficit again, Stephanopoulos uses the phrase “revenues” without specifically limiting it to the middle class. And to this is the exchange that followed:
GEITHNER: Again, we’re not at the point yet where we’re going to make a judgment about what it’s going to take. But the important thing…
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you’re not ruling it out, you can’t rule it out.
GEITHNER: I think what the country needs to do is understand we’re going to have to do what it takes, we’re going to do what’s necessary.
And that’s the few words that have pundits jumping up and down.
Come on. I don’t think there is a single American out there that thinks that taxes aren’t going to go up. It’s just a question of who bears the burden of the increases. And if you’ve been paying attention so far, it looks like it will be the rich and perhaps, corporations.
To run screaming from this interview shouting, “Middle class taxes are going up” is, in my opinion, irresponsible. We don’t know what’s going to happen yet. And keep this in mind: 2010 is a major election year for Congress. Who in Congress will vote in a package that will raise taxes on 95% of the population in an election year?
So, let’s try and look at this for what it is: Geithner admitting that he doesn’t have a plan. Nothing more.