One of the things which has amazed me since I closely followed my first Presidential election (Kennedy-Nixon when I was 8 years old) is how little American voters understand the legislative process and how silly it sounds when a Presidential candidate talks about “his” plan for taxes and the economy.
The fact is that without fully compliant, veto-proof majorities in both the House and the Senate, NO president can do squat. (And, even when a President has that, as Obama did from 2009-10, he often still can’t do squat.)
They can make deals, they can use their bully pulpits, they can make executive policy from the oval office, but they can only sign or veto legislation presented to them when it comes to changing the tax code; and they can only do the same when it comes to entitlements.
Actual tax policy and entitlement policy is the sole province of Congress, with the APPROVAL of the President..
So, when Barack Obama says that he gave us a middle class tax cut, when he really means is that he signed a compromise bill—negotiated in a lame duck session of Congress—to keep the Bush era (not the Bush) tax cuts in place for another two years.
And when gaffmaster Joe Biden says that they want to raise taxes on the super wealthy by not extending those cuts, he’s right. But, if those tax cuts do expire due to the lack of a deal in Congress or of a Presidential signature, expect the middle class to pay the bulk of the new taxes because there are vastly more middle-class taxpayers than upper-class taxpayers.
In short, a Presidential candidate’s promises as they relate to the tax code, tax policy, or entitlements are worth even less than the air it takes to make the sound.
Here’s what a President CAN do:
A President can tell his administration—the Executive branch of government—that it WILL approve an energy policy that encourages drilling in the continental United States and under our surrounding waters.
A President can approve the Keystone XL Pipeline so that oil produced in Canada can be consumed in the United States as opposed to China.
A President can stop the Environmental Protection Administration’s jihad against coal as an electricity-generating plant fuel, thus reducing our electrical bills.
A President can remove obstacles to natural gas production, again reducing our electrical bills.
A President can stop health insurance regulations that will bankrupt small businesses and force large ones to stop offering health insurance to their employees.
And a President can tell our friends that we will support them and our enemies; we will kill them if they attack us, and a President should know the difference between our friends and enemies.
Any or all of those actions would have an instant, positive effect. It seems that Obama is against them all, and Mitt Romney has promised them all. But all Obama wants to talk about is tax policy. Taxing the rich. Not only can he not do it; it won’t work if he could for a myriad of reasons, starting with the fact that there are a lot more middle-class taxpayers than ultra-rich taxpayers.
If you are worried about the economy, the tax code is not the place to start.
Presidents—especially ones who have not insisted that Congress pass a budget for the bulk of his term—have, as we have seen, very little positive effect on the economy.
But if the President were to concentrate on our energy policy and the massive effects the correct energy policy would have on our relationships in the Middle East, the economy might take care of itself.
Energy is a bigger tax on the middle class than taxes themselves.
Many of the problems we face today are indeed solvable by a President who understands what it is he can do and, more importantly, what it is that he simply cannot do.