March 24, 2009

"As a general proposition, I think you certainly don’t want to use the tax code … to punish people."

Doesn't Obama deserve some points for moderation on this one?

IN THE COMMENTS: Jason (the commenter) wrote:
That's not what Obama said.

"And as a general proposition, I think you certainly don't wanna use the tax code to punish people."

Note that the ellipsis in the article seems to be indicating a confused pause. It does not indicate that part of the statement is missing.

Also, look at what Obama is saying.

"And" (there was a whole bunch more before we came to this statement)

"as a general proposition" (qualifying statement)

"I think" (qualifying statement)

"you" (not "I")

"certainly" (a double qualified certainly)

"don't wanna" (we often have to do things we don't WANT to do)

"use the tax code to punish people" (way at the end)

73 comments:

Beta Conservative said...

No. He egged on his Acorn Pitch Fork Brigade for days and now wants to call them off. He is a juvenile trying to do an adult task.

It is clearly beyond his reach.

Seven Machos said...

So that means he didn't/won't sign the law, then?

rightwingprof said...

"Doesn't Obama deserve some points for moderation on this one?"

So now basic ethics and common sense are "moderate"?

No. He deserves no credit for this, unless he also deserves credit for being able to tie his shoes.

Peter V. Bella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
downtownlad said...

Yes.

Franco said...

He is supposed to be a scholar in Constitutional Law. It is a bill of attainder and clearly unconstitutional. But Obama would rather issues be framed in terms of his opinion than the Constitution, this way he has more power.

Peter V. Bella said...

What he says and what he does are two different things. The question- if this bill rears its ugly head again and somehow passes, will he sign it? Will he even read it first?

rhhardin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rhhardin said...

Somebody has already read Geithner's plan and found a loophole.

I wonder if Geithner thought of it.

What he wanted was privately motivated management of the funds, the theory being that government management would screw it up.

via marginal revolution.

AprilApple said...

Why should we trust Obama? He often says one thing, and then does another. Obama said he doesn't like earmarks. Whoopsie - he signed a bill with 8000 earmarks. Better luck next time, suckers.

The democrats live to raise taxes. "The power to tax is the power to destroy" -Jared Polis (D-CO).

Semantic deception is the new (D) game in town. Say the popular thing - then screw everyone anyway. The media will cover.

AllenS said...

I would like to personally thank Obama for not confiscating my Social Security checks. Yet.

Zach said...

I'd prefer him to be less wishy washy, but as long as the bill dies, I'm happy.

The full quote is less coherent than that:

"Well, I think that as a general proposition, you don't wanna be passing laws that are just targeting a handful of individuals. You wanna pass laws that have some broad applicability. And as a general proposition, I think you certainly don't wanna use the tax code to punish people. I think that you've got an pretty egregious situation here that people are understandably upset about. And so let's see if there are ways of doing this that are both legal, that are constitutional, that upholds our basic principles of fairness, but don't hamper us from getting the banking system back on track."

It's oral and off the cuff, so the repetition is forgiveable. He's a very wandering speaker, though. I have no idea what he means by "ways of doing this".

I was struck by the number of entry points that are tonally inconsistent with one another: "Well I think", "as a general proposition","you don't want to", "I think you certainly don't want to" -- those are all tonally different versions of the same phrase.

MarkW said...

Yes -- a little credit. He realized his earlier mistake (of fanning the flames and trying to use the outrage to his advantage). But I think he reversed course more out of self-interest than out of principle; he realized that this pitchfork stuff was likely to backfire and undermine his own policies. In particular, the administration realized Geithner's new plan would have no hope if nobody was willing to partner with the government out of fear that any profits would be expropriated through punitive, ex-post-facto tax laws.

TosaGuy said...

Gold stars, blue ribbons and trophies for all! After this thing is vetoed, Obama can go out for ice cream and the teleprompter gets its pelican case waxed.

rhhardin said...

I don't know why Obama can't just have an enemies list like everybody else.

dbp said...

We've fallen pretty far when a politician gets credit for stating something which ought to be common sense.

Especially when, you have got to assume, he would sign the thing if it ends up on his desk.

rhhardin said...

``Wanna'' in quotes is called ``eye dialect.''

It's in fact the way people usually talk.

Balfegor said...

No. He egged on his Acorn Pitch Fork Brigade for days and now wants to call them off.

I think he deserves credit for realising that his two minute hate had spun out of control.

AprilApple said...

"Taxes are going up. Sometimes directly, as "on the rich." Sometimes indirectly, as the savings of the middle class are inflated away. And mostly way-indirectly, as the poor are kept poor thanks to Obama's budgets putting the economy on permanent slowdown."

-vodka pundit

Maguro said...

Very big of him to spare the kulaks - for now. Thanks, Barry.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I think they should tax those bonuses to the hilt, say 99% so the tax proceeds can be used for those 8000 important earmarked projects which will stimulate the economy.

Senator Byrd (KKK-West Virginia) is getting up there in years and is probably due for another monument or overpass named after him.

Maybe they can get some reinforced guard rails over bridges in Massachusetts and name them after Ted 'Hiccup' Kennedy.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Only if it were true......and it isn't. Actions speak louder than words. I'll believe it when I see him veto tax increases that are specifically aimed punishing at a particular group of people.

Oh....and his words speak pretty loudly too. He uses weasel words and worm speak. Say one thing and do another.

He has already promised to stick it to the wealthy, meaning people who make over 250K. This amount, by the way, is not wealthy. This is also income and income is NOT the same thing as wealth. It is how you can accumulate wealth, if you get to keep some of the income that is.

John Salmon said...

More weasel words from Obama-"general proposition" and the rest.

No credit for edging (in teensy weensy footsteps) towards doing the right thing.

AJ Lynch said...

I checked with my crystal ball and it said Obama is just pandering. He does not mean it.

My crystal ball does not lie.

Roy Lofquist said...

"And so let's see if there are ways of doing this that are both legal, that are constitutional, that upholds our basic principles of fairness, but don't hamper us from getting the banking system back on track."

Yes, it's unconstitutional. So we're looking for ways to get around the Constitution.

EDH said...

Hardly.

Notice the qualifier, "general proposition."

garage mahal said...

Nope, sorry Obama. I haven't seen any right wing websites sign off on this yet. It still might be a trick.

Ben (The Tiger) said...

That's how the president is -- he speaks in generalities which sound moderate, but then his actions aren't.

Like saying that it isn't about expanding government, and then doing it, and so on. (Did you see that George Will column? Addressing Congress last week, the president said he is strengthening government "not because I believe in bigger government—I don't." Chant it, everybody: Yes you do.)

When his policy decisions start matching his general musings, then we'll start thinking of him as a moderate.

Lem said...

As a general proposition you don’t want to use the water board to punish people.

Might you use it to get information to save lives?... As a general proposition?

A memo anyone?

MPorcius said...

This is just the old the Good Cop - Bad Cop routine, right?

Freeman Hunt said...

Sure, we can put twenty-five of the thousand points he's lost in an escrow account, and he can collect them if he vetoes the bill.

PatCA said...

He said something moderate--but then, didn't he always?

"Present."

Balfegor said...

He has already promised to stick it to the wealthy, meaning people who make over 250K. This amount, by the way, is not wealthy. This is also income and income is NOT the same thing as wealth. It is how you can accumulate wealth, if you get to keep some of the income that is.

Please don't give the man ideas. I don't want a wealth tax on top of everything else.

paul a'barge said...

You know, I'd be really, really pissed if it were not for John McCain.

Me, I voted for Sarah Palin.

al said...

What about his plan to set salary limits on executives in certain businesses? Any points gained by doing whats right in this case get lost there.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I think until such time as Congress and His Supreme Holiness can demonstrate some sane fiscal responsibility themselves as opposed to increasng the national debt another trillion or three, they should all have a nice big mug of shut the fuck up.

AJ Lynch said...

My crystal ball also says Althouse & Meade live happily ever after for like 30-35 years.

The only rough patch they hit is when they agree to adopt Titus after he is downsized from his job.

Issob Morocco said...

As a general proposition, I think we should impeach the One for incompetence.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Please don't give the man ideas. I don't want a wealth tax on top of everything else.

We already have one. It's called the Estate/Death Tax.

The solution. Don't die or impoverish yourself first.

traditionalguy said...

I wonder why we are supposed to be grateful that Ceasar generally feels inclined to give a thumbs up sign, unless he doesn't. This is not Cesar O's Empire yet. He wants to assume the powers of a tyrant in the name of his marxist war on property owners Crisis. Bush was accused of Illegal Crimes just for adjusting to the reality of our Terrorist's communications Eavesdropping needs during a true war.

Peter V. Bella said...

I think until such time as Congress and His Supreme Holiness can demonstrate some sane fiscal responsibility… they should all have a nice big mug of shut the fuck up.

You have to understand something. These people are all about political expediency, not responsible policy. Expediency makes them look good. Responsibility is boring and takes time; something they do not have since they are all running fro reelection instead of running a government.

garage mahal said...

Any serious economist will tell you trillion dollar stimulus packages are too be spent on primitive countries across the globe for it to have any effect. You spend it there so you don't have to spend it here!

Chip Ahoy said...

As a general proposition,I think you [should adhere to Constitution of the United States]

Absolutely not, to answer your question. His statement marks his position as radical, if he has a position, which isn't clear. As ususal.

A moderate would say the tax code is never to be used to punish people, unless that tax code is violated, of course. But even here he doesn't give a rat's ass about that as long as the violator is a Democrat and being considered for cabinet position. <-- observed behavior, not opinion

Leave it to partisan wankers who screamed like bitches about shredding the constitution without ever bothering to cite exactly which portion got shredded to answer otherwise. Pffffft.

Dave TN said...

I agree with MarkW. He has (belatedly) realized that the Geithner Toxic Asset Plan has no hope of success without participation of the very financial firms that he and congress have been demonizing. You would have to be an idiot to sign up your company for this program in this atmosphere of 'outrage'. I hope he is learning from all these missteps, but I'm not terribly optimistic.

BTW - Congrats to our hostess & M!

Chip Ahoy said...

Incidentally, what an annoying site, The Hill. I do detest the text overlain with immovable adverts accompanied by additional pop-ups that further obscure text. When you've got to copy/paste just to read something, it pisses me off.

Apologies for the ill temper but do see no point to that beyond to aggravate all readers with too clever coding.

AJ Lynch said...

Seriously in his 60 minutes interview, Obama trotted out the liberal canard that today the average CEO makes like 150 times as much as the lowest paid employee. And in the 1970's it was only 20 times.

That sentiment shows how Obama is brainwashed. So he will continue to try various ways to confiscate income and wealth wherever he can.

Althouse & others better start to hide their blog income from the likes of Obama.

Chip Ahoy said...

It's not broadly known today, due probably to Hollywood depictions, that when the caesar gave the thumbs up at the colosseum that meant "stick the gladius in the guy's body," a sort of one handed sign language depicting a body with a sword stuck in it. Conversely, when the caesar gave gave the thumbs down it meant "stick the gladius in the sand," meaning spare the victim, which was a disappointment to a bloodthirsty crowd. Movies would have us understand otherwise.

rocketeer67 said...

"And as a general proposition, I think you certainly don't wanna treat human beings as chattel."

- Stuff Jefferson Davis Said, Vol. 1

rocketeer67 said...

"And as a general proposition, I think you certainly don't wanna use crucifixion to punish people."

Conversations with Pilate, Vol. 1

Balfegor said...

We already have one. It's called the Estate/Death Tax.

Yes, but come on. That's small potatoes compared to what we could get -- an annual wealth tax assessed on everyone whose collected assets exceeds, say, $500,000 or $250,000 or whatever. There's even a massive racial disparity here to whet Obama's wealth-spreading appetite.

rocketeer67 said...

"And as a general proposition, I think you certainly don't wanna put American citizens in internment camps just because of their ethnicity."

- FDR's "Other" Fireside Chats

rocketeer67 said...

"And as a general proposition, I think you certainly don't wanna throw journalists in jail indefinitely just because they write negatively about your policies."

- Wild Wuminations Fwum Wacky Woodrow Wilson

Jason (the commenter) said...

That's not what Obama said.

"And as a general proposition, I think you certainly don't wanna use the tax code to punish people."

Note that the ellipsis in the article seems to be indicating a confused pause. It does not indicate that part of the statement is missing.

Also, look at what Obama is saying.

"And" (there was a whole bunch more before we came to this statement)

"as a general proposition" (qualifying statement)

"I think" (qualifying statement)

"you" (not "I")

"certainly" (a double qualified certainly)

"don't wanna" (we often have to do things we don't WANT to do)

"use the tax code to punish people" (way at the end)

mcg said...

A wealth tax will never happen, because it will be too hard for Kennedy, Pelosi, and their ilk to design the necessary loopholes to shield themselves from it.

Paul Snively said...

No politician deserves "points for moderation" for what they say. They only deserve points for moderation for what they do. On that basis, so far, Obama gets negative points for moderation.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Any serious economist will tell you trillion dollar stimulus packages are too be spent on primitive countries across the globe for it to have any effect. You spend it there so you don't have to spend it here!

garage, do you mean also places like Africa and South America or just places like Iraq? Cause if so, crack that champagne cork cause I'll be on your side.

If not, then you can stick with your Miller Lite.

dick said...

Under what conditions would he want to use a tax punitively. He is leaving himself the out to use the tax as punishment if he cares to. It owuld be better if he just said we should never use the tax to punish. Then I would give him props. The way he put it, he is leaving himself the right to use the tax on the rest of us if we disagree with him. Look for the IRS to start auditing his enemies very soon.

Peter V. Bella said...

"And as a general proposition, I think you certainly don't wanna use the tax code to punish people."

Yeah, that is until he figures out a way to make it palatable and the MSM signs on and takes up the charge.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Under what conditions would he want to use a tax punitively.

Personally I think once you add up income taxes, Medicare, SSN, toss in your state income taxes and property taxes, I think you're past punitive and pretty close to approaching confiscatory.

traditionalguy said...

The tax designed to punish people is the Estate Tax a/k/a the death tax. It is concieved as a punishment on the children for the sins of their father's being successful. I await the Demo's class war based confiscation law re-enacting that tax for 2010. I predict that will be one exception in Lord O's mind.

Lem said...

As a general proposition I think you don’t certainly want to use the tax code to punish people clinging to their property.

Alex said...

garage - your trolling attempts are feeble at best. This issue has nothing to do with Obama listening to right-wingers, but liberals like Althouse who are criticizing him.

BJM said...

Chip, actually Caesar used his first finger, not his thumb, that is dramatic license.

In Italy an extended or raised thumb carries the same connotation as our raised middle finger. We always giggle like 12 yr olds when passing American hitchhikers with their thumbs out.

Sigivald said...

Talk is cheap.

When he doesn't use the tax code to do that, he'll deserve points for moderation.

If he does so despite saying that, well, that's Politicians for you, isn't it?

AJ Lynch said...

Hoosier:

Don't forget your phone taxes (per Whoopies Goldberg).

Steven said...

Obama should have said:

"James Madison said, in Federalist 44, that bills of attainder 'are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation.' He was absolutely right. I will absolutely veto the legislation. If it is passed over my veto I will order the Department of the Treasury not to implement the tax, and the Department of Justice to seek its overturn in the courts. If I face, in the end, a court order to implement it and no further chance to overturn it, I will resign rather than violate my oath of office."

When challenged, Obama could add:

"Certainly, the bonuses shouldn't have happened, and I've said so. But that wrong doesn't justify undermining the Constitution."

and

"Sure, it isn't explicitly unconstitutional. The right to privacy isn't explicitly in the Constitution, either. The protections the Constitution gives to individuals must be interpreted broadly."

Obama would thus win points for standing up for principle and the Constitution; defuse claims that he's a socialist class warrior; calm the current bonus-controversy-inspired fears on the Street of cooperating with government economic recovery efforts; and add another brick of reinforcement to the Warren court right to privacy.

Revenant said...

When he doesn't use the tax code to do that, he'll deserve points for moderation.

It is a pretty sorry state of affairs when you earn "points for moderation" by not violating the foundations of our democracy. :)

Rose said...

He doesn't mean a thing he says, when what he is saying is what he thinks you want to hear or that he has to say - and of course he has to say that, as a general proposition that is not a good idea.

No President should be activating his private stormtroopers to go to war against his own citizens - ACORN and every permutation of it and its self-pollinating little monsters should be abolished from the face of the earth.

"Groups" who use the grassroots cloak to deceive the people with the carefully perfected language of hidden lies must be outlawed. They currently operate without any oversight, outside of all of the laws of the land, no checks and balances, no accountability - he can do anything he wants with them, including intimidating private citizens who are his chosen scapegoats. The sacrificial lambs.

I curse every person who had a part in visiting this horror upon us.

blake said...

He'd get points if he LED with this, even as wishy-washy as it is.

You know, if he'd said it a couple of days ago, ideally when the notion was first proposed.

Even yesterday.

But he waited until the thing had already imploded and then planted his flag there--and even then, only tentatively.

Daryl said...

Anything that starts with "as a general proposition" means that there are exceptions.

The real question is, where does Barack Obama stand?

The answers are:

1 - wherever the polls put him

2 - in front of his teleprompter (we have President Ron Burgundy)

Freder Frederson said...

It is concieved as a punishment on the children for the sins of their father's being successful.

I'm curious, how are children "punished" by their parents' (and it is kind of sexist to imply that only fathers are capable of making money) estates being taxed. Are children entitled to be rich just because their parents are successful?

Generally, under the common law (civil law systems are quite different), parents can leave their estates to whomever they please, leaving their children destitute if they choose. Children have no legal right to their parents' estate. To argue that the estate tax punishes the children of the wealthy is ridiculous (this statement may have to be modified slightly in Louisiana and Puerto Rico).

Freder Frederson said...

No President should be activating his private stormtroopers to go to war against his own citizens

My God, at about this point in a thread on Bush someone would be accusing me of calling him "Chimpy McBushitler" or some such other thing.

Of course Bush actually authorized torture. As far as know, ACORN does not take orders from the president or the Democratic party.

And I never advocated the murder of anyone, unlike Rose.

Freder Frederson said...

"Groups" who use the grassroots cloak to deceive the people with the carefully perfected language of hidden lies must be outlawed.

Hey Rose, you ever hear of a little document called the Constitution? You might want to read it some time.