To my neighbor, who fears that Obama win will raise his taxes if he wins:
Look, I don't like taxes. Nobody does. And I know that we live in the high rent district here, and that you might very well fall to the north of the $250.000 income line above which Obama's tax plan will indeed raise taxes. Even those raises, however, will only take your taxes as high as they were in the Reagan administration, but again, I understand that for you and lot of people, any tax is vexatious.
The thing of it is, though, that under Bush, your taxes have already gone up considerably. Oh, I know you think Bush gave you a tax cut, but think of all the things you pay more for after eight years of Republican misrule than you did in the Clinton administration. We may not call those increases "taxes" in the usual sense of the word, but in a way they are.
Gasoline cost $1.46 a gallon when Bush took office, and it's about $2.00 a gallon more than that now. That's a tax on the Bush administration's failure to have an intelligent energy policy designed to move the country away from its over-reliance on oil.
Your stock portfolio has probably taken a big hit in the last couple of months, due in part to the near-collapse of the investment finance sector. Your market losses are a tax on lax regulation of the securities and banking industries and on the Republican practice of putting people who are firmly philosophically opposed to the whole notion of market regulation. And so is the $700 billion bailout: a $3,000 tax on look-the-other-way regulation to be paid by every man, woman and child in the country.
Food costs more now, sometimes significantly. That's a tax on the administration's push for biofuels, which are consuming a significant portion of our feedstocks now, thereby increasing demand and price.
Every time you fly somewhere now, you pay a homeland security tax that's added to your ticket. More significantly, though, your travel time has been increased as you are forced to move slowly through security queues--and time is money. This is a tax on the Bush administration's failure to prevent 9/11 (despite explicit warnings from the outgoing Clinton administration) and on their cumbersome and questionably effective administration of airport security.
When you go to sell your house, chances are that you won't get what you paid for it a few years ago, and that it will remain on the market for a long time before it sells. This is a tax on government policies that encouraged Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to underwrite riskier and riskier mortgages, which fueled a building boom, resulting in a glut of unsold homes.
Health care costs have increased for most people over the last eight years. Deductables and co-pays are higher, and restrictions on what doctors you can see and what medications your insurer will pay for are more onerous. This is a tax on the failure of the Bush administration to enact a comprehensive national health care plan. Maybe you fear having your "official" taxes raised if such a plan were to become law--but the fact is that your "unofficial" health care taxes are increasing anyway.
If you travel abroad or if, like most Americans, you buy a lot of imported goods, you have been affected by the decline of the value of the American dollar. Imports are more expensive now, and unfortunately in many product categories imports are the only good available. This is a tax on the record budget deficit policies of the Bush administration. Of course, a more substantial tax on the deficit will be born by all taxpayers in the coming years as the interest on the national debt eats up a larger and larger portion of the budget.
There are a lot of things that happen in the economy that are beyond the government's control. No President can fairly take all of the credit or the blame for the economy's performance. But policy does have consequences. Personnel has consequences. Philosophy has consequences. Right now, we have a governmental philosophy that holds that regulation of financial institutions is somehow illegitimate. We've seen the appointment of financial foxes to administer the regulatory chicken coop. We've been subjected to a policy of forwarding the bills for our current public expenditures on to the taxpayers of the future. The consequences of those choices have been taxing indeed.