In the president’s continuing conduct of class warfare on higher income earning Americans, he proclaimed “Either we ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share in taxes or we’re going to have to ask seniors to pay more for Medicare. We can’t afford to do both. This is not class warfare, it’s math”. Of course it is class warfare and it is evident that the same group of teachers that taught him economics must have also taught him mathematics. What the president is doing is saying that instead of having a spending problem we have a revenue problem. Nothing could be further from the truth. But framing the argument by blaming the “wealthiest Americans” is campaign rhetoric and decidedly unpresidential. It is time to call the president out and demand what does he mean by “pay their fair share”. We know that he has latched on the catch phrase “millionaires and billionaires” and as part of the new math has defined that group to include those who earn $200,000 and more. Why doesn’t he get asked how $200,000 equates to being a millionaire? Obviously, the president has flunked math by leaving off a zero. However, no one has asked him to define “fair share”. We all know that this group pays the vast majority of federal income taxes and the only group not paying its “fair share” is the 47 percent of wage earners who pay no federal income tax at all. Perhaps he is alluding to Warren Buffet when he says that hedge fund managers pay less than their secretaries. Here again is the new math. There is no way that this can be true. Even if you assume that the hedge fund manager is paying at a lower capital gains tax rate when you do the math, the manager is paying much more than the secretary is at the personal income rate. So Obama flunks this math test as well. The third way the president flunks is that he assumes that we are too stupid to do the math. He asserts that if we just raise the taxes on high earnings that the deficit problem will go away. Really? The American Thinker has pointed out (http://www.americanthinker.com/archived-articles/../2011/03/confiscate_americans_wealth_to.html) that if the government confiscated 100 percent of all income over $200,000 per year then the gain to the treasury would be only $221 billion! This means that the confiscation could not even cover the $714 billion spent on antipoverty programs last year. Lastly, as pointed out in EconLog (Obama's budgetary sleight of hand http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2011/09/obamas_budgetar.html) the president also flunks the math test by double counting budget cuts as well. Thus the president is either bad at mathematics or is a bad liar.
Harold A. Black is professor emeritus in the Department of Finance, University of Tennessee, Knoxville having retired after 24 years of service. He has served on the faculties of American University, Howard University, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and the University of Florida. His government service includes the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and as a Board Member of the National Credit Union Administration. He also has served on the boards of directors Home Savings of America and its parent company, H. F. Ahmanson & Co., Irwindale, California prior to its merger with Washington Mutual Savings Bank, on the board of New Century Financial Corporation, Irvine, California, then the nation’s largest real estate investment trust and as director and later chairman of the Nashville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He writes an occasional article for the Knoxville News-Sentinel at http://www.knoxnews.com/staff/dr-harold-black/. His web page is haroldablackphd.com