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Lynn Forester de Rothschild Headshot

Obama's Economic Plan

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In a stunning about face this week, Barack Obama announced that "I've got an economic plan that is similar to Bill Clinton's." On its face, this would mean that, if elected, Barack Obama would raise taxes on all taxpayers, support NAFTA and reduce welfare, three cornerstones of the Clinton economic legacy. This would be a serious reversal of Senator Obama's campaign promises and his stated policies. Other than a crass attempt to hitch his fate to the Clinton star, the comment highlights the serious risk to our current economic situation that is posed by Barack Obama's pledge to raise taxes on the producers of jobs and capital, increase welfare and abrogate our commitment to NAFTA. These policies create a serious probability of leading our economy into further economic dismay.

Barack Obama is wholly disingenuous in implying that his tax policy will have the same success as the Clinton policy when, in fact, the economic environment inherited by Bill Clinton was vastly different from today's economy. Obama's assertion is similar to saying that because an aspirin cures a headache it will do the same for cancer. President Clinton benefited from an economy that grew by 4.2% in the first quarter of his Presidency, the Dow was up 5.8% for the year prior to his election, total national debt was 54% of national output and information technology was in its infancy. Tax rates inherited by Clinton had been reduced by 60% under Reagan and Bush Senior since the Carter years. When President Clinton increased taxes, he simultaneously brought our national budget into balance in sixteen months. He signed NAFTA against the will of his own party.

Yesterday, the country's growth contracted by .3%, providing one-half of the technical verification of the recession being felt around the country and certain to be inherited by the next President. The Dow is down 32.5% for the year, our national debt is at nearly 70% of total GDP (after WWII national debt was 102% of GDP and America was at the beginning of its stunning economic success). Currently, unless investors are able to forcefully advance new energy technologies, there is no analog to the 1990's information revolution which can give us the necessary economic stimulus for innovation and job growth. Supporters of the Illinois Senator not only ignore the current fragile economy, but also the obvious consequences of Obama's opposition to NAFTA and his destructive economic philosophy. In fact, Senator Obama's policy of higher taxes and higher tariffs for our fragile economy at this time is exactly the wrong direction for the country.

One of the reasons that Barack Obama could well lose on Tuesday is because voters are beginning to realize that his policies will tank the economy and the markets. The stock market looks forward, not backward, and there is a direct correlation between the declining Dow and the increasing poll numbers for Barack Obama. According to the June Gallop Poll, by a margin of 87 to 13, Americans care more about improving the economy than they do about redistributing wealth.

According to his rhetoric, Barack Obama is helping working Americans. In fact, John McCain offers bigger tax breaks to the working class than Barack Obama. (The only reason you do not know this is because you have not looked at the fact that no one earning under $50,000 will pay any tax under John McCain and, on the famous "Obama Taxometer", the untruthful Obama campaign does not include the $5,000 health care tax credit that John McCain in giving to every American). Moreover, almost 75% of Americans making $100,000 have some capital gains. As the value of their investments turns negative they will suffer badly, even if Barack Obama does not raise their taxes. A declining economy is bad for everyone.

It is dishonest for Senator Obama to claim he will fix this economy by taxing the top 5%. His spending increases on programs alone amount to $300 billion per year. The dishonesty is to say that this will be paid by his tax on the top 5%. It is simply not possible. As the Obama plan makes clear, the additional taxes of the "rich" have already been committed to his "refundable tax credits". According to the Tax Policy Center, the Obama tax plan will take $70 billion from the top 5% of earners in the country and redistribute it to the 60 million Americans who pay no tax.

Senator Obama's economic philosophy will make America neither stronger nor fairer. Today, the top 1% of earners contributes 40% of the nation's $2.6 trillion tax intake and the bottom 50% pay 2.9% of our nation's total needs. This is in contrast to the 17% of total tax paid by the top filers under the Carter Administration when the top marginal rate was 70%. It has been shown that reductions in tax rates increase tax revenues because incentives to private enterprise strengthen the economy and create jobs and a larger tax base.

As he exploits the current widespread economic uncertainty in the nation and blames the richest, Barack Obama not only ignites an insidious class war, but also ignores the inconvenient fact that America's top earners have paid double in taxes since the reduction of their tax rates under George Bush. Namely, in 2003 the richest Americans paid $136 billion in taxes and after the tax cut in 2006 they paid $274 billion. Times of economic uncertainty are exactly when our government needs to cling to business and the generators of wealth and jobs, not use them as scapegoats.

Along with my Democratic "friends," I used to make fun of Republicans by saying that they lived in an "evidence-free zone." Well, I now see that it is the Democrats, swept away in the "narrative" and "transcendence" of Barack Obama, that are refusing to look at the facts about the likely consequences of electing Barack Obama. The same media outlets that failed to vet the Iraq War are now failing to vet Barack Obama. Unfortunately, they will never accept responsibility; it will be our country that takes the hit. For me, that is very sad.

John McCain may not be the most eloquent or sexiest candidate in this race, but he is the candidate who will best serve this nation for the next four years. He is reducing taxes for all Americans further than Barack Obama, cutting federal spending and encouraging free trade and energy independence as engines for domestic economic growth. More importantly, he and Sarah Palin actually have a record of taking on the vested interests and their own party (while working with Democrats) to make tough decisions. I have yet to be shown the same evidence of the junior Senator from Illinois.

Regrettably, the road kill of Obama's reckless rhetoric and policies is not the rich taxpayer, but the entire American economy. The pain will be felt mostly by those who lose their jobs in the economic downturn and are the owners of 401ks and other savings who suffer at the stock market continues to decline. Barack Obama has not been held accountable for the obvious consequences of his tax and trade philosophy and policies. If elected, it will be all Americans who will suffer.

PS. Most readers have probably not read this far into the piece, but if you have, I have one more comment.....Since speaking out about this election, I have seen the Obama response is to attack me personally, particularly on the Internet. Fine, but just to let you know, eighteen months ago my husband wrote in the Financial Times that capitalism was in retreat because of the greed on Wall Street. We have subsequently invested only in tax-free government securities. So, my opinion is not driven by my economic interests. I am driven by what I said in the New York Times in June, "I love my country more than my party" ......and it is ok with me if you hate me. xoxoxo

Related: Lynn Forester de Rothschild: Barack Obama's America