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Obama the agnostic

Posted by Richard on February 12, 2010

On countless occasions before and since his election, President Obama has repeatedly and forcefully made statements like this one

"I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 per year, will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes." – Candidate Barack Obama, Sept. 12, 2008, Dover, N.H.

Of course, he broke that pledge early in his presidency, as the Heritage Foundation among others pointed out. And he spent most of his first year fighting for a government takeover of health care that, in both the House and Senate versions, would impose a plethora of indirect taxes (such as on medical devices like crutches) in addition to a massive middle-class mandate that some would argue amounts to a tax. 

But now Obama has officially embraced tax agnosticism. Which means, I suppose, that the President is going to vote "present" on tax increases.

Ryan Ellis of Americans for Tax Reform had these comments:

You might have seen today that President Obama is now officially "agnostic" about whether a bi-partisan tax increase/deficit commission should raise taxes on families making less than $250,000 per year.  A few things here:

  1. This would directly contravene his campaign promise (repeated again and again throughout the campaign and during his first year in office) to not raise "any form" of taxes on these families, "not one dime."  ATR has maintained a full database of this tax promise

  2. As Jim Pethokoukis of Reuters has pointed out, this could be a subtle signal that Obama is paving the way for a value-added tax (VAT).  ATR maintains an Anti-VAT Congressional Caucus
     
  3. An agnostic is someone who lacks the conviction of either an atheist, or a believer.  It seems pretty clear that President Obama is actually rather zealous in his faith that higher taxes across the board (including for non-affluent households) is the correct public policy goal.

Yeah, the Obama administration is about as agnostic about higher taxes and bigger government as the average New Orleans resident is about the Saints.

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