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Is Obama about to raise your taxes?

August 3, 2009 |  7:44 am

During the campaign, Barack Obama was unequivocal: If your family makes less than $250,000 a year, he promised, your taxes would not be raised, no matter how many new health care reforms or stimulus packages his White House devises. Here's what he said, part of his stock campaign speech:

"I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes."

But this weekend Team Obama sent two of its top lieutenants -- Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and economics guru Larry Summers -- out on the airwaves to leave the president some wiggle room.

Summers, an ambitious pol said to be salivating over the prospect of becoming the next chairman of the Federal Reserve, was asked on CBS' "Face the Nation" if even the middle class could face higher taxes under the president's ambitious healthcare overhaul.

"There's a lot that could happen over time," he said sounding like an oracle. "It's never a good idea to absolutely rule things, rule things out, no matter what."

As for Geithner, you may recall that he had his own back-taxes issue, something about unpaid Social Security taxes that almost derailed his confirmation. Asked on ABC's "This Week" about runaway government spending, the Treasury secretary said obliquely, "We have to bring these deficits down very dramatically. ... That's going to require some very hard choices."

Charitably, Team Obama might have been floating the idea merely to measure the political fallout. Or perhaps a tax hike is inevitable. As the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation put it, you can’t borrow a trillion dollars for an economic stimulus, enact a new trillion-dollar healthcare entitlement and increase federal spending by 12% without raising taxes on the middle class. "Eventually the moment comes when reality catches up to campaigning," the foundation said. "That moment is fast approaching."

Let us know what you think. And in the meantime watch the president's lips. If it was a trial balloon he'll probably rein it in soon. And if not, watch your wallet.

-- Johanna Neuman

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