The Washington Post

Tax fairness is just another hollow phrase

Carter highlights the fact that Obama is talking about “tax fairness”.  Who isn’t for tax fairness?  I’m for tax fairness.  The problem is that tax fairness is one more hollow phrase and codeword that Obama could get away with in 2008, when he was a blank canvas upon which people could project whatever they wanted.  But “tax fairness” for Obama in 2012 means one thing: tax increases.  And everybody who pays taxes knows it, or will know it by the election. Then there will be a referendum in November, and taxpayers will ask themselves some actual questions: Do they think they are paying a fair amount already? Would they like to pay more? Do they feel like the Obama method of governance is getting them their money’s worth?  I can’t wait to see a poll on these questions in late October. 

Obama’s campaign will be full of hollow slogans and reasonable-sounding phrases that will always have a caveat.  Look for Obama to say things like, “we need to look at more nuclear energy” (whatever that means) and “we are for more domestic oil and gas drilling, but; fill-in-the-blank.” The Obama campaign will label every single dollar spent by the government as an “investment”. Why, the Obama Administration just invested almost a million dollars in the Las Vegas entertainment industry via the well-publicized GSA Vegas getaway

The dynamics of the emerging general election are interesting.  Obama has to try and hide from his economic record.  And the Republican nominee must do some hiding of his own, so as to not interrupt the President while he is trying to explain his economic record. Yet an inescapable feature of the campaign will be key economic data release dates. These will become important news drivers.  As unemployment, corporate profits, GDP growth, inflation, and other data are released, look for each side to pounce and for everyone to overanalyze the data.  Yet, the numbers won’t lie, and Obama will be mostly on the defensive, which means he has to create some distractions and a lot of phony phrases like “tax fairness” while he does everything possible to destroy Mitt Romney. 

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.


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