Candidate Obama’s catchy campaign phrase turns into Orwellian doublespeak

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Syndicated Columnist

During the run-up to the election candidate Obama said again and again, “If you are a family making less than $250,000 a year you will not see your taxes go up. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.” It was a catchy statement. He was aiming it straight at the middle class, the bulk of the voters at the only time we really have any power, which is right before an election.

President Obama then proposed a multi-billion dollar bailout of banks and corporations that were deemed too big to fail or too necessary to bring the economy back from the edge of collapsing altogether.

This past Sunday, eight months after inauguration, the Obama administration’s Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner and National Economic Council Director, Lawrence Summers started laying the groundwork for the middle class to foot the bill for not only the deficit but proposed health care reform by saying that someone’s going to have to step up to the plate.

Apparently that someone is still the middle class and small business owner.

There has got to be some way for the middle class to come together and refute the bill without having to wait for another election cycle and a pile of promises from a new group of candidates.

We need to figure out how to become too big to ignore instead of just writhing in frustration as the larger corporations use tax loopholes to avoid taxes and threats about collapse to avoid failure. All of it sounds more like taxation without representation.

It speaks to our optimism as Americans that we can go through election cycles listening to candidates make promises that are later broken and still believe the next guy that comes along.

History seems to dictate that if the candidate is young, relatively good looking and well-spoken we’ll lap up the platitudes even more and start repeating them as our own. We’ll even make posters splashing the pithy sayings across the bottom.

But then reality comes around and the promise we hung our hopes on gets caught in the back of the politician’s throat with the usual explanations pouring out instead. The ones about a tough time or economic realities or that something has to be done.

Granted, the economic collapse occurred after all of the promises to not raise taxes and America was staring down a Great Recession, which we fell into to varying degrees. Things happened that were so large they couldn’t be foretold or factored into the promises.

However, it’s not a solution to finally getting better health care for the middle class by telling us to pay for it. If we could do that in greater numbers, we would be doing it already. We promise, cross our hearts, that we’re not holding out.

And, it’s not what we elected the agents of change and hope for when they decided to bail out everyone else and leave the middle class way behind. It’s one thing to take on our share of the responsibility, which we’ve always done whether it was fighting the wars or rebuilding the economy.

It’s quite another to expect the masses who get up every day and go to work without any promise of a golden parachute or stock options or even decent health care to rescue everyone else.

This is the Obama administration’s chance to live up to all of the cool posters that just say, ‘Change’ and fulfill the promise. Raising taxes on the middle class is an obvious idea but it’s not a solution anymore. Think again.

Martha Randolph Carr is the author of the novel, The Sitting Sisters. Martha can be found on Twitter at MarthaRandolph or email at or visit