|Hypocrisy: Obama Paid Lower Tax Rate Than His Secretary|
By Timothy H. Lee
Wednesday, April 18 2012
In campaign speeches, Barack Obama sermonizes endlessly against “giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans like me.”
According to his own IRS return, however, Obama himself gladly exploits them.
Alongside Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D – New York) and so many other champagne liberals, he apparently follows the motto “lower taxes for me, but not for thee.”
This week, Obama released his 2011 return, showing an adjusted gross income of $790,000 – which places him well within the top 1% bracket that he so often demonizes. So did he pay the 30% “Buffett Rule” rate he demands on the campaign trail? Not even close. Obama’s effective tax rate was actually just 20.5%. Believe it or not, that’s even lower than his 2010 rate of 25%, even though he has only intensified his class warfare rhetoric over the past year.
Obama also righteously demands an end to the Bush-era rates for families earning over $250,000. Had he filed according to the higher rate he claims to favor, however, he would have owed $17,758 more than he paid.
In fact, Obama even committed that mother of all liberal sins: he paid a lower rate than his own secretary. “The President’s secretary pays a slightly higher rate this year than the President on her substantially lower income,” admitted White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage.
Obama behaved just as hypocritically in 2010, when his income totaled $1,795,614. Unlike Americans earning as little as $200,000 whom he habitually mislabels “millionaires and billionaires,” he actually was one. But what tax rate did Obama himself pay? Approximately $454,000, which amounts to about 25% of his income. And as for those deductions he says millionaires shouldn’t get? Obama claimed almost $400,000 worth, which is almost as much as his entire tax payment.
Obviously, none of that accords with Obama’s tawdry political rhetoric. As recently as last week, Obama preened in the battleground state of Florida:
“You might have heard of this, but Warren Buffett is paying a lower tax rate than his secretary. Now, that’s wrong. That’s not fair. And so we’ve got to choose which direction we want to go in as a country. Do we want to keep giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans like me or Warren Buffett or Bill Gates? People who don’t need them and never ask for them? Don’t give tax breaks to folks like me who don’t need them.”
Apparently believing that shamelessness can shroud hypocrisy, the Obama campaign demanded, “Make Mitt Romney Pay His Fair Share”:
“We’ve got a new interactive tool that shows how Mitt Romney and some other millionaires play by their own set of rules – the same rules they’re trying to make sure you and I don’t ever get to change. Compare your tax rate to Mitt Romney’s – and see how the Buffett Rule makes him pay his fair share. I can’t think of a better way to illustrate the choice this country is facing in November.”
For good measure, Obama’s chief campaign strategist David Axelrod proclaimed on Fox News Sunday, “nobody can argue that it makes sense for people who are making $1 million a year or more to pay less than the average middle-class worker in this country.”
Moments later, host Chris Wallace cornered Axelrod, who offered no defense:
Wallace: You just talked about the President and how it’s not fair for rich people to pay a lower tax rate than middle class people. The President introduced his – or released his tax returns this week. It turns out that he paid a tax rate of 20.5%, which is a lot less than the 30% he talks about, and yes, it is lower than what his secretary pays… I take it that he’s not going to contribute money to the Treasury to help with the deficit?
Axelrod: Listen, well, that’s not the way we operate in our tax system, OK? We don’t run bake sales. It’s not about volunteerism. We all kick in according to the system. And the system allows that.
Actually, it’s exactly like a bake sale. Obama argues that citizens should give more of their earnings to government to pay for his trillion-dollar deficits and reckless spending, and the Treasury Department allows filers to voluntarily contribute to that very cause. Yet Obama himself refuses. Nobody forced him to pay the existing rate. And nothing stopped him from paying more than his own secretary or contributing to the deficit reduction fund.
So why does this matter?
First, it illustrates the leadership qualities of the man asking voters to approve four more years of the same.
Second, it shows the intellectual bankruptcy of the liberal tax agenda. Obama could have passed the “Buffet Rule,” which would only raise a miniscule $4.7 billion per year against Obama’s massive $1.3 trillion deficits, during his two years when his party dominated Congress. And he could have followed it himself. The fact that he didn’t reveals everything you need to know.
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