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Posted by on Sep 19, 2011 in Economy, Politics | 30 comments

Obama On Proposed $1.5 Trillion In New Taxes: “This Is Not Class Warfare, It’s Math”

President Barack Obama unveiled his profusely leaked proposal for more than $1 trillion in new taxes mostly on the country’s wealthiest Americans and threw down the gauntlet to Republicans in more ways than one. His key phrase that will be carried on talk radio and cable shows (friendly and unfriendly to him), news websites and blogs (partisans of the left and right and independent) will be this:

“This is not class warfare, it’s math.”

Some will dismiss it as defensive, but it’s actually going on the political offensive: one justified criticism of Obama is that he lets political narratives develop among his political foes until they fester and grow and jumps in too late to counter them. Additionally, his party’s liberal base wants him to start calling out GOPers on their attempts to define Obama and the Democratic party. Here’s the gist of his speech:

President Barack Obama, setting up another clash with Republicans, has proposed $1.5 trillion in new taxes aimed primarily at the wealthy as part of a deficit reduction plan.

The president pitched his plan Monday morning from the Rose Garden at the White House.

“Today, I’m releasing a plan which details how to pay for the jobs bill, while also paying down our debt over time,” said Obama about his recently-released plan to ease the nation’s unhealthy unemployment rate.

“Washington has to live within its means,” continued the president. “For us to solve this problem everybody … has to pay their fair share.”


Obama added, “I’m proposing real cuts to spending. These would be among the biggest cuts in our history … This plan eliminates tax loopholes that primarily go to the largest corporations.”

“We can’t afford these special lower rates for the wealthy — rates, by the way, that were meant to be temporary.”

Challenged Obama, “Nobody wants to punish success in America … those who have done well, including me, should pay our fair share … we shouldn’t get a better deal than ordinary families get.”

Responding to a common complaint from Republicans, he said, “This is not class warfare, it’s math.”

Here’s the video that shows his complete speech:

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Clearly, the proposal is D.O.A. — and most assuredly Obama & Co. know it. But they are a)proposing it because they believe it just be done b)proposing it because it definitively defines their position and the Republicans. The question is whether he’ll see an increase in support from his base if disappointed Democrats return to the fold — and whether independents feel he’s less of a risk and makes more sense than whoever the GOP runs against him. The flaw in this strategy: if the economy continues to tank then it doesn’t matter how logical his argument is, many voters may want a change — unless they feel Republicans are the ones hurting the economy, versus his administration’s ineptness.

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  • Allen

    This is MY President, whom I am well pleased.
    I have never been more proud of any President than I am of President Barack Hussein Obama II, and his beautiful family.

  • I thought that he’d proposed them to pay for his jobs plan. If it’s really deficit reduction (sorry, but I have to remain skeptical), and really eliminating loopholes (also skeptical), that could change the whole game.

  • dduck

    Pretty good speech, a little repetitive and if he were smarter, he wouldn’t have attacked Boehner. But he is not, that is part of the problem. At least he has elevated the rhetoric to the super rich and biggest corporations- progress.

  • DaGoat

    Class warfare and math are not mutually exclusive. It is class warfare, and it is a mathematically related problem.

    Conceptually I understand and can even agree with what Obama is proposing, but the amount of money raised is small compared to the debt, and the attitude that the government somehow deserves access to one group’s money over another grinds my libertarian gears.

  • JSpencer

    Class warfare is real. It involves the steady beating and grinding down of the middle and lower economic class until they are too tired to complain about their fate. Republicans who levy the charge of class warfare have no idea what they are talking about. None. As usual.

  • if he were smarter, he wouldn’t have attacked Boehner.

    I don’t understand this. Why not? Can you elaborate?

    I LOVED Obama’s “it’s math” line. He needs to attack the GOP and the T.P. on the right button: they are idiots. Of that, there can be no question. Anti-science, anti-thought, self-contradicting, their talking points and sound bits are, plain and simply, idiotic and shallow, and they should be attacked on that basis.

    And for Boehner’s “class warfare” whine-o-gram, I only have to say “well, what are YOU doing?” The fight against entitlements, Obamacare, and other things are class warfare in a different direction.

    Although I still think Obama has, by and large, failed as President, I certainly hope he ramps up the battle-speak against the GOP.

  • dduck

    Because, it is not helpful except to make his people feel better. If both these guys shut up and did something instead of whining in public, it might lead to real (non-public) discussions. They are like the guys before a prize fight all posturing. Get in the real ring and out of the PR limelight.

  • Allen

    Yeah we need a little class warfare in this country. The rich decry it because they are so damned outnumbered they shake in their socks for fear that it will actually get started. Lets roll.


  • Allen


    It’s real easy to play the “know nothing”, sit on the sideline and complain about “both sides”.

    Why don’t you offer something?

  • dduck

    Well, I guess offering criticism of both sides is not good enough. Learn to live with it, Allen, I am not in any position to change anything, perhaps you are. All your bitching and moaning and blaming the Reps for everything does not mean squat. With mindsets of people in power that only think the worst of the other side, it is difficult to accomplish many good things for the country, which should come first, not the party or getting reelected.

  • Jim Satterfield

    Which is why libertarians won’t get too far, they ignore the real world so much. The government doing something bothers them. People who have power because they have money, not so much.

  • dduck

    I’ll let Libs speak for themselves. I am a moderate and don’t fear or worship government. But, i do know that a dysfunctional one, without a rudder, does not fare well in stormy weather.

  • Allen


    -[All your bitching and moaning and blaming the Reps for everything does not mean squat]-

    OH CONTRAIR duck!

    It is the dissemination of information. Communication of rationalizations. The very reason we have been made human. To give up would be, pardon the expression “duck”, but animal like.

  • Allen


    -[I am a moderate and don’t fear or worship government]-.

    You are not a moderate duck.

    You are a cynic duck.

  • dduck

    I guess you are a died in the wool judge of political positions, so what can I say confronted by such an astute observer who can interpret all the political scat and always come up with a clear black or white opinion, which always leads to a favorable Dem conclusion. I need to regroup and get some sleep in the face of such a superior force.
    BTW: cynics can often see where zealots are blinded by messianic brightness.

  • @Jim
    The real world is collapsing under a load of increasingly impossible financial obligations. The obligations are both public and private, but they all were made possible by public policies (0% interest, lax enforcement, bailouts, authority removed from accountability, and market distortions). Your “real world” is about to go under.

  • Allen

    Well Duck, it all boils down into what it is that you believe in. Broad generalizations lose against a well defined belief and goals.

    You are right, I am a zealot. I am a zealot for achieving social equality and social justice. I do not believe that simply making the rich richer is a solution for achieving these goals.

    I know what I believe in. Do you?

    Messianic? Oh I see, you are against me because I am Christian! You are prejudiced! Now I get it.

  • redbus1

    “died in the wool”

    I think dduck meant to say “dyed in the wool.”

    But hey, it COULD have been fatal, ya never know. : – )

  • Jim Satterfield

    First, that’s an exaggeration. Secondly, it still doesn’t mean that libertarians would do any better. In fact they would do far worse, in all probability creating a feudal society if they ever got to try to implement their policies.

  • JSpencer

    You’re right Allen, it is an excellent speech by a smart and rational leader. Unfortunately his words aren’t falling on the ears of rational legislators.

  • Cannonshop

    ‘kay, disagree JSpencer: It’s not an excellent speech by a smart and rational leader, it’s a smart and rational speech written for a harvard-educated stuffed shirt with a pleasant speech-reading voice.

    A speech, as delivered by a newsreader, basically.

    Like his promises about transparency and accounatbility in his government, it is merely promises, there is no evidence that he means a word of it. Nothing in what he has done as president indicates this is the direction he wishes to go, nor does anything he has done in his term of office indicate he, himself, has any direction of his own at all.

    From retreading Bush’s foreign policies, to retreading the worst of GW’s domestic policy mistakes, to blaming GW Bush for his own inability to accomplish…anything that he has failed at, President Obama has revealed himself to be a clean, nonthreatening, somewhat minority-ethnic newsreader and stuffed shirt.

  • ShannonLeee

    “harvard-educated stuffed shirt”

    I hate me some smart people!

  • EEllis

    Class warfare is a bit of a loaded term but there should be no denying that Obama is trying to do an us vs. them move. “They”, “They”, “They” need to pay their share. “They” have been getting a free ride. Even with tax breaks “They” pay most of the taxes so what is their share?

  • BTW: cynics can often see where zealots are blinded by messianic brightness.

    Nice! 🙂

    Class warfare is a bit of a loaded term but there should be no denying that Obama is trying to do an us vs. them move. “They”, “They”, “They” need to pay their share. “They” have been getting a free ride. Even with tax breaks “They” pay most of the taxes so what is their share?

    Be honest with yourself. We ARE in class warfare now, and we have been since the GOP took the House. They HAVE been playing the Us v. Them game since that time, and have been brutal at it: threatening to shut down the government, ruining our AAA credit rating, and harassing the administration with a “block everything” posture. They ARE attacking entitlements, Social Security, and other programs relied upon by the poor.

    And as far as “fairness” goes, I find it patently unfair for wealthy individuals to pay a smaller percentage in taxes than the working class. That is the very definition of “unfair” and shows the USofA is really a plutocracy and neither a democracy nor a republic at all!

  • @Jim
    Libertarians are against corporate welfare and unsustainable systems. There is no perfect philosophy, but we obviously have had too little libertarianism in there. The conservatives (pro-business subsidies and protections from responsibility) and liberals (pro-personal subsidies and protections from responsibility) have both proven to be failures over time.

  • dduck

    Prof., I like those aspects of Lib., but don’t like the more extreme as espoused by Ron Paul, for example.

    RedBus1, thanks for the die/dye job.

    Allen, I meant Obama, and I apologize if I offended you as a Christian.

    Cannon, good shot.

  • Allen


    Libertarian? What are you saying Prof?

    Germany is not unstable. Why don’t we be more like them?

  • EEllis

    You do know the joke about Zelots right? The first thing one does is remove the brain so that logic can’t effect them.

  • Cannonshop

    Sorry that you hate Smart people, Shannonleeee. Personally, I have problems dealing with people that are overcredentialed for their actual accomplishments. A degree doesn’t mean you’re intelligent, it just means you were adequate and patient (and well heeled) enough to make it through the school.

    “Intelligence” is the ability to APPLY knowledge, Education doesn’t make you intelligent, it provides you with information on the assumption that you are intelligent enough to utilize it.

    There is a term in amongst those less-financially-well-off folks you disparage out here:

    “Educated Idiot”.

    Means someone who’s got all kinds of fine education, but lacks the ability to apply it in some useful fashion.

  • Allen


    Yeah but logic is not just anything you can dream up either.

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