Call Obama's bluff on oil tax budget gimmick

Washington Examiner Editorial:
President Obama released his 2017 budget request on Tuesday. It produced many sighs of relief, not because it was a good budget but because it is the last he will propose as president.

His proposed deficit next year is a mere $503 billion. (Bang goes another half trillion of our children's inheritance). As the president likes to point out, that's significantly smaller than the deficits at the beginning of his term, when the government was bailing out banks and automakers and passing trillion-dollar stimulus packages. But it is still historically big, and about 15 percent higher than this year's deficit.

It contains a great deal of clever padding. For example, one reason the deficit isn't much bigger is that it assumes a huge surge in revenue from immigration reform. The White House calculates that a reform deal would broaden the tax base and drive down deficits by $170 billion over 10 years. But given the unlikelihood of any immigration bill passing Congress during this election season, the numbers are fiction.

Obama's budget also contains a theoretical $10.25 per barrel tax on crude oil, producing $319 billion over 10 years. This suffers from that same flaw as the immigration proposal — that it has no chance and is therefore fiction.
The oil tax is cynical not only because it won't happen, but from a substantive perspective, too. The moment oil prices fell and consumers began to benefit, Obama's first thought was to reach into their pockets and take about a quarter for every gallon sold.

Such a tax would increase household expenses and probably cost jobs. Like most "green" policies, it will hit the poor while allowing its rich progenitors to indulge in eco-preening.

The proceeds of the oil tax, if their were any, would be used to expand government and create what is referred to as "a 21st Century clean transportation initiative." This appears to be, among other things, an effort to resurrect high-speed rail, a failed feature of Obama's 2009 stimulus package; Obama gave up on his best ideas, such as bipartisanship, early in his first term, but obviously he hasn't gfiven up on his worst.
This provides an opportunity for Republicans to put Democrats on record as supporting this regressive tax increase on the poor.   The immigration measure also lacks political support and any increased revenue would be offset by having to payout increased benefits to illegals.  It would be especially costly for states with high immigrant populations.


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