The danger is in the details. It's enticing to believe that government can "help" middle class Americans. But where will they get the money to do that? Although the president didn't go into detail in his State of the Union address, the details that were released in the week before the speech should make middle class American's think twice. Despite the rhetoric of "taxing the rich" -- it's pretty apparent that the middle class will do most of the paying.
It was President John F. Kennedy who famously said: "A rising tide raises all ships." He was referring to the ability of the economy to create jobs and economic prosperity. He also said: "Paradoxically, the way to increase tax revenues is to cut tax rates."
What a shame that President Obama didn't learn this basic lesson about middle class economic prosperity from his Democratic predecessor. Just as the economy is on the verge of raising the tide for all Americans, and especially the middle class, the president wants the government to step into the process -- not to create wealth, but to redirect it.
In the process, those who have saved and invested for the future, avoided debt and hoped to give their children a better start are among those who are hurt the most. While current Fed policies penalize middle class seniors by keeping interest rates low to fund the Federal deficit, these new proposals would do most damage to middle income families saving for college, and making long-term investments in their job-creating small businesses.
Education: The president proposes eliminating the tax-free contributions to 529 College Savings Plans -- the best way for the middle class to build up money for a college education for their children. He would instead "give away" a "free" education at community colleges.
This is the same administration that took over the student loan business -- dumping a $1 trillion dollar debt upon today's students, then creating new ways to forgive that debt if graduates follow a path into government service. Instead of taxpayers subsidizing more public education, families should be allowed "school choice" for college -- and the means to save for it instead of going into debt.
Incentives to Build for the Future: The president's proposal to end the "step-up" in basis at death is headlined as a loophole for the rich. But what about the family that bought a home or stocks years ago and held on to these assets as a bedrock of family wealth? Or perhaps they created a small business many years ago, one that has grown in value.
Instead of passing this inheritance tax-free to their children (with a small tax break on home sale gains), the growth in the asset value will now be taxed, forcing the assets to be sold to pay the taxes. The president calls this "unlocking assets". Instead it is an attack on those who step-by-step have grown their assets for the future.
Incentives to take Risk and Invest: The art of "plucking the goose" is to do it so slowly that the goose doesn't know it has lost all its feathers. People are smarter than geese. The capital gains tax rate has already risen from 15 percent to 23.8 percent under the Obama administration. Now they want to raise it to 28 percent.
At what point do people stop taking risk, investing in new technologies and starting businesses that create jobs? If this proposal passes, we will find out. But there was no mention of all the corporate tax loopholes that come about because of huge campaign contributions to both parties from lobbyists for business interests.
It's the direction that matters most. The American economy has struggled back to incipient prosperity despite the government, not because of the new government regulations and taxes.
Taking money from the savers, the investors, and the producers in the economy will not help those who are about to join the current wave of prosperity. Only economic growth can do that. A good job creates more family security than a refundable tax credit, a payment from government. And that's the Savage Truth!