August 4th, 2009
10:20 AM ET
5 years ago

Obama may fall into Bush 41 tax trap

President Obama has said he will not raise taxes on those making $250,000 or less.
President Obama has said he will not raise taxes on those making $250,000 or less.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - "Read my lips: No new taxes."

That famous phrase from George H.W. Bush came as he accepted his party's presidential nomination at the Republican National Committee convention in 1988.

At the time, it was exactly the red meat Republicans were looking for. But campaigning and governing are two very different things.

Bush was elected as the nation was slipping into a recession. When confronted with a growing national deficit, he had to find a source of revenue.

That revenue came in the way of raising taxes, a move that especially rankled members of the GOP and became an issue for Democrats to run on in 1992. Democrat Bill Clinton was swept into the White House.

Pushing forward to 2009, another president may have trekked onto the same territory.

On Monday, the White House sought to shoot down concerns that middle-class families may face a tax increase in order to combat rising deficits and a struggling economy after its two top money men floated the idea that tax increases to fund the nation's economic recovery could extend beyond the wealthiest Americans.

Full Story


Filed under: President Bush • President Obama • Taxes
soundoff (153 Responses)
  1. Alan

    I think it's funny how often Republicans, who basically support and uphold all big business interests, fight anything that would be good for the people who elected them when it will only bite them in the arse later if they get through.

    Case in point: a general population with more disposable income generally DISPOSES of that income BUYING the things Republicans make their money selling! While GW was in office, housing, banks and Wall Street got into such a greed frenzy they DROVE us economically to where we are today - average people unable to afford even basic necessities.

    You can't have it both ways, Republicans. You can't drive America into thrid world status so you can find cheap labor at home (the REAL goal here - it's obvious to me) AND have a population with money to spend on the stuff you want to sell them.

    Obama gets this. He sees that Health Care Reform will put more DISPOSABLE income into people's pockets, which they will spend, which will improve the economy AND increase tax revenues. Same as the jobs programs.

    I'm getting REALLY sick of the Republicans' short-sighted, me-first greed.

    August 4, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  2. ANGIE IN PA

    President Obama WILL NOT RAISE TAXES ON THE MIDDLECLASS Dont worry Republicans are LYING AGAIN!

    August 4, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  3. Shari, NY

    I am willing to bet that the this is a hyped up scenario (just like the one about the President "mocking" Newsweek when the man did no such thing), and as usual those easily swayed or driven by a "Chicken Little – the Sky is Falling" mentality will fall for it. Wait and see! If I am wrong then I will switch parties ASAP (just kidding!)

    August 4, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  4. mfelder

    This seem to be, with the help of the media, the big corporation strong arm tactic. What Big Corporations want to know is if this President is going to repeal the tax cuts to the rich. They have been shedding jobs as a threat to the President that if he does not repeal the cuts they will not hire back employees. The President need to stand firm. If these firm can pay themselves these hugh salaries and bonuses, they can afford to pay their fair share of taxes and pay their employee, too. I know it is a bold move for the President, but Big Corporations must ask themselves are they willing to allow the country to fail or will they step up to help us turn this country around. We cannot continue to support the tax cuts for the rich. After all is done, Big corporations and and the rich and wealthy always seem to find a way to write off everyting and not end up paying their fair share of revenues. We already see a 57% decrease in revenue from big corporations. How is continuing with the tax cuts going to bring in more corporate revenue?
    The only people who have paid their fair share of taxes is the middle class. They cannot hold this country up.

    August 4, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  5. JGB

    He has already raised taxes with his cap and trade tax!! More new taxes to come, look for them to be disguised as other things.

    August 4, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  6. John doe

    there's a difference between raising taxes and letting tax breaks expire. Those tax breaks are also the first time EVER in american history that the tax rates went DOWN during a war! goes to show how little Bush knew about economics 101

    August 4, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  7. Chris - Denver

    Even if Obama did have to raise my taxes, I wouldn't vote for an extremist like Palin or Huckabee. Republicans need to get serious if they expect to have a chance in the future. I think a lot of people would support a socially moderate, fiscally conservative third party about now.

    August 4, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  8. joe

    The government is spending its way into a corner which will require a tax increase which is one of the reason maybe now is not the best time to overhaul the health care system. Given the decreasing tax revenue, the threat of inflation and debt the government is running up, the only realistic option is for Mr. Obama to raise taxes. This could have been avoided if he spent more wisely. That said, it will be interesting to see how he defines middle class. He considers the rich to make $250,000 or more a year, as a New Yorker with School Loans for my MBA, $250,000 after taxes barely makes the rent, elementary school costs, etc. I would assume his definition of middle class would be a much lower income level than is a realistic estimate of middle class and he could get away with saying he is not raising taxes on the middle class, but in the end the majority of us will pay for his mistakes with higher taxes

    August 4, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  9. Glenn; Detroit, MI

    This is not a hard problem to solve. Eliminate the IRS, impose a $.12 on the dollar federal sales tax, legalize marijuana and tax it the same as tobacco and alcohol, problem solved and money in the bank. We'd be flush in no time and have a surplus by the end of the 1st term. It's not rocket science, it's basic economics.

    August 4, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  10. Dave

    We really need to have a serious debate about taxes as the defeict spending spree our Government is on can only lead to MUCH higher taxes for everyone. China doesn't want to continue buying our T-Bills so where will the money come from to continue this defeict spending spree?

    But our Government continues to LIE to the American public and treat us like helpless children. Just for once it would be nice to see our elected officals be truthful.

    August 4, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  11. Dennis

    He shows no signs of slowing down on spending, so he's going to need more revenue. Tax increases are the only thing left. And if he raises taxes on middle class he is toast.

    August 4, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  12. Melissa

    Where exactly did you think the money for all this was going to come from? Magic? I have no problem with higher taxes so long as its used to pay down the debt and money used to fix all the screwups Bush made.

    August 4, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  13. Justin

    I have no problem paying slightly higher taxes. So long as the money goes to help MY COUNTRY!! Stop giving it away to ungreatful nations that take the money with one hand and flip us the bird with the other. No more petty wars and wasteful, inefficient defense spending. If higher taxes mean fewer potholes in the roads around here, cheaper healthcare, better paid public servants (teachers, police and fireman, NOT politicians), more jobs here in this country, securing the borders, and keeping me and my family safe here at home, then I'm all for it. Taxes are not the worst thing in the world, and paying them is the patriotic thing to do. But it darn well better go to something thats going to benefit myself and my fellow countrymen.

    August 4, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  14. Allen, Cypress, Texas

    This is just another media invention. It must be a slow news week where the media is now trying to manufacture news. I listened to the same Sunday talk shows that the media is now claiming to show the president backtracking his campaign promise of of, "No Middle Class Tax Hike" What I heard was both the Treasury Secretary and the Economic Adviser being asked if the administration would consider raising taxes on the middle class to help get the deficit under control. They both responded as any intelligent administration would, that they cannot rule any in or out. That sounds like a prudent and sensible thing to do. Given the fluidity of our economic system, no administration would make that king of commitment. That does not mean that they're going to raise taxes on the middle class.

    August 4, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  15. jfs Memhis, Tn

    The GOP could only hope. NOT VERY LIKELY. Different century, decade, and voter. We need health care...We voted overwhelmingly in favor of President Obama and his platform. We sent Washington the message and the their walking orders in Nov. The politics are to do what we have instructed Congress to do. Regardless of GOP and News Media spin( networks need to fill in the gap in between elections) Congress must give us what we want ...those who say NO are not performing and will be dealt with in the 2010 elections. I will gladly spend an extra $1000 a year in taxes if I can save $2000 on my health insurance. Just think of the annual savings we will have once we get out of that Republican mess in Iraq and Afganastan !!!! That will pay for LOTS of health care and at least WE ALL will have something to show for our investment.

    August 4, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  16. Lori in St Pete

    I enjoy the benefit of taxpayer-funded medical coverage (my husband is retired military), and I'm of the opinion that everyone should have the same access to affordable health care as we do. We don't pay a monthly premium, and our annual deductible is $150 per person. Our co-pays are kept in check by forbidding treatment providers and facilities from balance billing. The catastrophic cap ensures we won't be left destitute should one of us develop a debilitating illness. We're still relatively young, and will continue working and paying taxes for another 20+ years. We're not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, but we wouldn't mind a small tax increase if it meant that everyone could access basic care. IMO all income, regardless of how much or the source, should be taxed at 3% to pay for it. Everyone would contribute, spreading the "pain" as thin as possible. A healthy workforce is a productive workforce.

    August 4, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  17. Jason

    My problem with tax increase rhetoric is that taxes go up no matter who is in power. If the Federal Government doesn't raise your taxes, the States will. Hello, California anyone? Last time I checked our Governor was not a Democrat.

    August 4, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  18. Dave

    Just a matter of time. There is no way around it for him.

    August 4, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  19. Zach Kalina

    At 48 Years Old, Obama has been fighting half of his life for struggling middle class families.

    All I can say is that Obama is NO Bush.

    August 4, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  20. Joanna in PA

    it just goes to shjow you how ignorant our people are. they only care about themselves, not the strenght of our country.

    August 4, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. KirksNoseHair

    Isn't it really cool how the Republicans are going to try to hang this albatross around Obama's neck? Let's review, shall we?

    Bush enters office with a HUGE surplus.
    CHECK

    Bush and the Rep congress spend like drunken sailors for 6 of 8 years
    CHECK

    Surplus completely wiped out by massive tax giveaways to rich people and stupid useless war on country that did not threaten us
    CHECK

    Obama campaigns on a promise not to raise taxes on the middle class
    CHECK

    Suddenly, the fact that we're in this hole is Obama's fault?

    August 4, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  22. Rick DC

    Obama is such a smooth talker...he made all this attractive promises during the campaign just to get elected...very slick...."no increase in taxes my _ss...

    Anyone who voted for this clown should get that tax increase, I am sure they would not have a problem with it.

    August 4, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  23. Randolph Carter

    I don't have kids. Nor do I plan to. Why should my tax dollars go to fund public schools? You mommies and daddies are a bunch of lazy freeloaders looking for a handout. If you can't afford private schools, too bad. Have a nice day!

    August 4, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  24. Aunt Bea and Opie

    Were going to catch all the tax cheats soon,like Rush Limbaugh,that use offshore accts to hide his millions from taxes due the American people.

    August 4, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  25. The black spider

    People never complain about the postal service run by governement which never bankrupt Fedex or DHL or whatever.
    People never complain about medicare or medicaid run by the government.
    People never compalin about the VA hospitals run by the government.
    Nobody ever complain about no other government run services and non of them as far as i know is a bad service.
    Now the oppose government option of insurance. Wow
    Here is an option let any registred republican get off medicaid and medicare and VA benefits buy their own private insurance and let every democrats opt for Public option and we will see who wll survive and who will die.

    August 4, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7