WaPo Business Columnist Tells David Gregory Taxes Are Going Up

April 19th, 2009 2:29 PM

As Tea Parties ensued from coast to coast last week, the Obama administration and their media minions depicted attendees as not understanding that the new president has decreed taxes will be going down for 95 percent of Americans.

On Sunday's "Meet the Press," Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein let the cat out of the bag: Tea Partiers are right. Taxes are going up.

This revelation occurred after host David Gregory said to the Post's Pulitzer Prize winner, "There may be doubts about President Obama, but he is cutting taxes."

Pearlstein responded:

That's right. And the level of taxation, overall tax, the federal taxation, which includes the income tax, but also the corporate tax and the excise tax and things like that, it's, it's at one of the lower points it's been in the last 30 years.  And one of the things that everyone has to get sort of comfortable with is it's going up. And Dick [Armey] is right about that, it's going up.  It has to go up. We need to get the deficit down and we need to live within our means in--as households and as governments. So one of the things I, I think I'm a little disappointed in is that Obama has got himself locked into nobody under $250,000 income is going to get a tax increase. I think he's going to find that that's very limiting in terms of putting us on that stable foundation, the rock that he talked about in his speech this week.

Later, Pearlstein elaborated:

I think the president was--in this speech was trying to get us off of the idea that all of this is just spending.  Some of it is investment, and it's investment that will pay dividends down the road.  And if he can redirect the conversation and say, yeah, this--some of the stuff that government does that we consume every year--we send people checks, that's consumption.  But if we're investing in these things, it's good for the public--for the private sector, people in the private sector to invest, but it's also good for the public sector.  But what he's got to say is in order to invest, you've got to stop consuming certain things...That is, allow yourself to be taxed so that we can make these investments.

As the Fonz would say, "Exactamundo."

Earlier in the segment, Gregory had this interesting exchange with Fortune's Nina Easton:

DAVID GREGORY, HOST:  Is the broader argument here, as Steven suggests, there has to be a burden because of where the country is; that, that individuals have to pay more?

NINA EASTON, FORTUNE: Well, I, I would--first of all, I, I think the media underestimated this as an animating force, a tax--the potential of tax increasing.  I think, I think that there is--it's an animating political issue.  It's something that the Republicans can hang their hats on.  I would recall 1993 Contract with America, when Democrats didn't take that seriously, either.  I think tax and spend issues are a real, are a real animating issue for Republicans.  I think there's also been a little mini TEA party on the Hill, in that we saw moderate Democrats have already declared, basically, dead on arrival the, the Obama proposal to limit deductions for wealthy households giving charitable contributions.  There's concern about the cap and trade, which is the energy plan that's, that a lot of Republicans are countering as a--they're calling a tax increase.

MR. GREGORY:  Right.

MS. EASTON:  And some moderate Democrats are agreeing.  So I think that--I, I do think the tax thing, I think the Democrats underestimated at their own peril.

I very much agree.