Michael Tanner: Obama Is No Clinton

Roundup: Media's Take

Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution.

Lately President Obama has done everything except seduce an intern in his attempt to morph into Bill Clinton. In virtually every speech, he invokes Clinton’s name, trying to link his policies with those of the popular former president. He has even called upon Clinton to place Obama’s name in nomination at the Democratic National Convention.

But, try as he might, Barack Obama, is no Bill Clinton.

President Obama says that he wants to raise taxes back to the level they were under Clinton, but that’s not quite true. Under President Obama’s proposal, the top tax bracket would be raised to 39.6 percent. The president has also called for phasing out high-income taxpayers’ itemized deductions, adding another 1.2 percentage points to the effective tax rate, bringing it to 40.8 percent. Add in the 2.9 percent Medicare tax and the top marginal rate would be 43.7 percent, roughly equal to what it was during the Clinton years. But Obamacare would increase the Medicare tax for high-wage earners to 3.8 percent, pushing the top marginal tax rate under the Obama plan to 44.6 percent, nearly a full point higher than it was under Clinton.

The same is true for capital-gains taxes, interest, and other investment income...

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