Obama, Redistributionist in Chief

BarackObama unveiled plans to extend one lower- to middle-class tax credit, allow the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy to expire as scheduled, and raise revenue from a cap-and-trade emissions plan. Today’s New York Times (2/26/09) described the proposals this way:

The combined effect of the two revenue-raising proposals, on top of Mr. Obamaâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s existing plan to roll back the Bush-era income tax reductions on households with income exceeding $250,000 a year, would be a pronounced move to redistribute wealth by reimposing a larger share of the tax burden on corporations and the most affluent taxpayers.

Huh. Were Bush’s tax cuts, which were overwhelmingly tilted towards the wealthy, described as “a pronounced move to redistribute wealth” by the Times? My Nexis searches don’t turn up anything like it.

I did, however, finda February 9, 2001 piece that began:

President Bush formally sent Congress his proposal today for the broadest and deepest tax cuts in two decades, touching off a debate that seemed sure to produce a major cut in personal income taxes this year.

But no sooner had Mr. Bush described his plan in the Rose Garden, declaring it a boon for the working poor, than Democrats began jockeying to limit its size while conservatives and business groups sought to expand it. The White House said it would try to head off corporate lobbyists–many representing major contributors to the Bush campaign–who seek to garnish it with huge cuts for their wealthy clients.

The Bush White House, according to the Times, was fighting to make sure his corporate backers didn’t benefit from the cut. How did that work out?

The Times also mentioned that Obama’s tax plan”introduces a politically volatile edge to the congressional debate over Mr. Obamaâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s domestic priorities.” The L.A. Times (2/26/09) was sounding a similar alarm about Obama’s plan to raise taxes on the wealthy to fund healthcare:

By relying heavily on new taxes, the president is also sending a potentially controversial signal that he is willing to ask wealthier Americans to help foot the bill for his healthcare agenda.

I suspect that if you asked the public if they supported raising taxes on the wealthy in order expand healthcare for those who need it, you’d find that it’s not controversial at all.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.