Ed Driscoll

The ‘Old Washington Game’ That Dems Have Been Only Too Happy To Play

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Barack Obama promised on the campaign stump in 2008 that “Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”

Nearly two years later, John Kartch of Americans for Tax Reform spots this howler from The Won:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: It’s important that we not restrict the review or the recommendations that this commission comes up with in any way. Everything has to be on the table. And I just met briefly with the commission and said the same thing to them. Of course this means that all of you, our friends in the media, will ask me and others once a week, or once a day, about what we are willing to rule out or rule in when it comes to the recommendations of the commission. That’s an old Washington game…so I wanted to deliver this message today: we’re not playing that game. I’m not gonna say what’s in, I’m not gonna say what’s out.

It certainly is an old Washington game — one that the Democrats invented. As Ed Morrissey wrote in 2006 describing Bill Clinton’s campaign in 1992 when he and his fellow Democrats — who themselves have never met a tax hike they didn’t embrace — used Bush #41’s “read my lips” pledge against him:

[T]he tax increase in 1990 resulted in a sudden recession, which the Gulf War made worse by driving up oil costs temporarily. In fact, the increased rates flattened tax receipts; it did not result in any significant increase to the Treasury.

Second and more to the point, the Democrats with whom the President consulted and compromised used his efforts to castigate him as unfaithful to his promises in the 1992 general election. I find it hard to imagine that Dionne cannot recall the “Read My Lips’ commercials that the Clinton campaign used to devastating effect in that election, which showed Bush promising to hold the line on taxes — and blamed him entirely for raising them later. The Democrats stabbed Bush 41 in the back for working with them, and that’s the lesson that 43 learned from the experience. Compromise with Democrats, and they will use it to attack at the first opportunity.

As Obama continues to raise taxes, both directly and indirectly, it’s tough to fault Republicans for using his words against him, as Obama’s Democratic predecessor did in 1992.

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More: As the midterms approach, President Obama’s rhetoric switches in tone from presidential to personal, and back to being Alinsky-esque.