Over the years, one of the purposes the sunday news shows have come to serve is a venue from which to launch political trail balloons and see how well they float.
Some get shot down immediately. Some take flak but survive. And other sail right on through with very little notice. David Axelrod appeared on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos and launched one concerning taxes and health care. Axelrod first said that Obama still believes taxing health benefits is not the way to pay for health care (although during the ABC informercial, he essentially said that if it happened, it would be a compromise (and obviously not a show stopper for him)).
Stephanopoulos pushed a little harder on funding through taxation:
I pressed Axelrod on whether Obama will draw a line in the sand and veto any bill that funds health care reform with tax hikes for people making under $250,000 a year — despite a pledge Barack Obama made during the 2008 presidential campaign not to raise taxes on the poor and middle-class.
“One of the problems we’ve had in this town is that people draw lines in the sand and they stop talking to each other. And you don’t get anything done. That’s not the way the president approaches us. He is very cognizant of protecting people — middle class people, hard-working people who are trying to get along in a very difficult economy. And he will continue to represent them in these talks,” Axelrod said.
“But they’re also dealing with punishing health care costs, and that’s something that we have to deal with.”
Classic. He could have simply said “we’re open to compromise and if that’s what it takes to pay for it, then yes, we’ll raise taxes on the middle class in a New York minute.”
But instead he had to do the “we’re here to protect the middle class, but …” and then tell us how they really weren’t there to protect them in this particular case.
So to those of you who believed Obama when he said that 95% of Americans won’t see their taxes raised by a single dime – well, that’s no longer necessarily the case – if you let this trial balloon float away unimpeded (not that it will matter really – if they pass health care it has to be paid for somehow and there is no possible way only the richest 5% are enough to pay for that boondoggle).