People often describe such logic as Orwellian, but in truth, you have to go back to the comedienne Gracie Allen for such a priceless example of corkscrew thinking.
But of course logic has nothing to do with it, and whatever Obama is, he isn’t dumb. This is a piece of election-year gamesmanship — and as such, it’s a decent gambit. The president can claim, as he did yesterday, to be a great friend to the middle class that has taken such a beating during his presidency.
It’s also an interesting gambit, because it reveals something about the way Obama likes to “cut” taxes. “I’ve cut middle-class taxes every year that I’ve been president — by $3,600 for the typical middle-class family,” he said yesterday.
Those cuts are a blend of one-time subsidies, credits here and there, shifts in college-loan programs, and piecemeal temporary policy like a cut in the payroll tax in 2011 and 2012 that can’t be continued if we’re even going to try to keep pretending that Social Security and Medicare are paying for themselves.
These aren’t cuts in anyone’s tax rate. They are a kind of rebate system, a giveback from Uncle Sam. And that is the key to understanding Obama’s method.
The president wants the public to think Washington is somehow cutting them a break, tossing them their own money back in a benevolent, paternalistic, top-down manner — sort of like your dad letting you access a little bit of the dough in the savings account in which you put your bar mitzvah money