Posted by WLS:
Now that there is a presumptive Dimocrit nominee for the general election, I’m going to start a recurring series of postings commenting on non-answers given by Obama to direct questions posed to him by the media and others.
The problem I expect to see develop in the very near term is the dramatic curtailment of Obama’s availability to answer questions in a format that provides for any level of candidness. He is clearly an effective speaker when working with a teleprompter and a script, but his impromptu responses to media questions are largely void of substance. When they do have substance they often amount to a dodge of the issue, but sometimes they contain some nugget of information about the stealth candidate that is illuminating with respect to his real beliefs. As these more revealing comments appear I’m going to highlight them, and the implications of those comments in future policy issues.
Yesterday Obama appeared on Wolf Blitzer’s show on CNN. As an initial entry in this series, I present the following “answer” on a simple question about whether he might advocate an increase in the capital gains tax rate:
[Blitzer] Because they’re arguing already that you want to increase capital gains taxes, for example, on investments, and stocks, and things like that.
BLITZER: A lot of middle-class people have those kinds of accounts. If they’re…
OBAMA: If they have, — Wolf, if they have a 401(k), then they are going to see those taxes deferred, and they’re going to pay ordinary income when they finally cash out. So, that’s a phony argument. And this is something that you have seen the Republicans consistently do, is they try to make this broad- based argument about, he’s going to raise your taxes as a cover for them eliminating taxes for people like myself and you, who can afford to pay a little bit more…
Now this was a pretty straight-forward question — whether he’s suspectible to GOP claims that he will raise the capital gains tax rate, and what that means for middle class Americans.
Rather than address the question — by saying, for example, that the capital gains tax rate it too low and should be raised, or that it is fine where it is and will be left alone — he answers with a complete obfuscation.
401(k) plans have nothing to do with capital gains taxes. Contributions to 401(k) plans are made with pre-tax earnings, and the withdrawals upon eligibility are taken as ordinary income and taxed accordingly at the tax rate applicable to the retiree — including that part of the plan’s funds the constitute appreciation/ capital gains.
Wolf Blitzer is too much of an idiot to follow-up by pointing out that Obama hadn’t answered the question, and the issue of raising the capital gains tax rate extends far beyond simply raising taxes on the “rich”.
To suggest that American households only own stocks in their 401(k) plan — and to ignore completely the issue of capital gains taxes on investment accounts, college savings accounts, on the sale of homes, farms, or other real property — reflects either ignorance of basic tax issues, or an unwillingness by Obama to state his positions honestly.
Frankly, I think its more of the former than the latter.
Obama would be only the most recent example in my life of a Harvard Law School egghead who lacked a basic comprehension of day-to-day issues facing ordinary Americans. Some of the dumbest people I’ve ever met — including some of the worst lawyers I’ve ever encountered — were graduates of elite East Coast academic institutions.