About a year ago, then-Senator and Democratic nominee Barack Obama managed to seize control of the issue of taxes from the Republican Party by promising lower taxes for "95 percent of Americans."
But today it's a drastically different situation. Obama's $787-billion stimulus has been passed into law and the administration is taking on higher deficits, which will only increase if a Democrat health care reform bill passes. It looks as though the president's hand will be forced and he will have to raise taxes. That's begs question - where were the media on this a year ago?
CNBC's Erin Burnett asked Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at a CNBC made-for-television town hall on Sept. 10 if taxes would be raised. Geithner dodged the question, but Burnett interpreted the dodge to mean yes, as she explained on NBC's Sept. 13 "Meet the Press."
"He, he tried to not answer the question, and in doing so I think he actually did," Burnett explained. "What he did was come out and say, ‘We cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans in the stimulus bill, and the burden of tax increases, if they come, should be on the remainder' - i.e., the top 5 percent. It is clear taxes are going up, and I think the question is when?"
According to Burnett, the administration will attempt to stave off a tax hike until after the 2010 midterm elections, which aren't looking good for the Democratic Party. However, it will be difficult for Obama to make it through the 2012 presidential election without raising taxes.
"But what I hear from economists on Wall Street is, yes, they're going up," Burnett said. "Maybe they can get through the midterm elections, but probably not all the way through a full re-election cycle. So that's where this is going to come through. I mean, if you look at the deficit and you taxed everyone in the top five at 100 percent, you wouldn't get rid of it. So the math just doesn't work and tax increases are going to come in some way, shape or form."
Repeatedly during the 2008 presidential campaign, media cited the so-called non-partisan Tax Policy Center, which touted Obama's tax plan as being more broad-based, while characterizing Republican nominee Sen. John McCain's plan as being just for the rich.