Back in 2008, when President Obama was running for his first term, he promised to be a post-partisan leader. While a Democrat, he said he would accept good ideas when they came from Republicans. At the time, I believed him, at least to some degree. And I wrote about it in this NY Times column.
Sadly, I was wrong. The short version of the story is this: As a candidate, President Obama campaigned on a platform of raising taxes on the rich. Yet he and his economic advisers also said they wanted to raise dividend taxes only slightly, from 15 to 20 percent. For reasons I explained in the Times article, keeping dividend taxes low was a position bolstered by good economics. Now, however, the president wants to raise dividend taxes to ordinary income tax rates (plus, for high-income taxpayers, the new tax of 3.8 percent that is part of the Obamacare legislation).
To put it another way, he campaigned as a moderate, willing to concede that the other party had some good ideas on tax policy. Once in office, he gave up on those ideas.
A similar thing happened with Bowles-Simpson. During his first term, he appointed a bipartisan panel, which concluded we could address our long-term fiscal problem with lower tax rates and a broader tax base. Now, the President goes around the country lambasting that approach.
Reasonable people can disagree about whether President Obama is a good or bad president. But the claim that he has tried to transcend partisanship and find a middle ground is just impossible to square with the facts.