Dr. Boozman's Check-up

We have all encountered the aggressive salesperson at some point in our lives.  At car dealerships, service companies and shopping malls across the country, these forceful salespeople implore high-pressure tactics to close the deal with you.  They distort the truth, promise the world to you and generally tell you whatever to takes to make the sale.  This technique is known as the “hard sell.”

Successful salespeople will tell you to avoid this approach.  It turns the customer off, loses their attention and leads to a general distrust of the person making the pitch.  Once a salesperson crosses that line, it is nearly impossible to get the customer back.  President Obama, desperate to sell his plan to raise taxes, may have crossed that line with his latest sales pitch.

The non-partisan FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, found that President Obama’s claim that he pays a lower tax rate than a teacher making $50,000 a year isn’t true.

At a recent town hall meeting sponsored by the social media firm Linkedin, President Obama said, “Somebody who’s making $50,000 a year as a teacher shouldn’t be paying a higher effective tax rate than somebody like myself or Jeff [Weiner, CEO of Linkdin], who’ve been incredibly blessed.”

Along with the disingenuous wealth redistribution argument of this claim, there is also a major factual error with this statement.  As FactCheck.org points out, a single taxpayer with $50,000 of income would have paid 11.9 percent in federal income taxes for 2010.  The Obamas paid more than twice that rate—25.3 percent (and higher rates than that in 2009 and 2008).  If the $50,000-a-year teacher in the President’s illustration shared the same tax situation as the Obama’s—supporting a spouse and two children—he or she would have paid no federal income taxes at all.

When FactCheck.org asked the White House about this, an Administration spokesperson told them: “The President was not offering a literal comparison of his personal tax rate.”

Comparing the amount of taxes you pay versus the amount of taxes someone else pays, is a textbook example of a literal comparison.  It is apples to apples.  And it exposes the underlying flaw in the President’s approach to our economic crisis.  Instead of convincing the American people of the merits of his policies, the President has resorted to emotional appeals to stoke the public’s frustration and pit sides against each other.  It isn’t important if these appeals are true or not, it seems, as long as those lines generate applause. 

So with 14 million unemployed Americans, the President’s only answer is to double-down on government spending.  He knows he cannot convince us to spend more while we are $14 trillion in debt, but this time he can claim it is “paid-for” as long as he can get his tax hikes through Congress.  However, the American people lack faith in his recycled stimulus plan, given that it failed to the first time, and are not supportive of a tax hike to fund another “Big Government” plan that is not likely to succeed.

This leaves the President with few options other than to give the American people the “hard sell” or abandon his approach.  Unfortunately, he seems to have chosen the former over the latter.