Monday, August 18, 2008

Civics Lesson 101

While I’m here in Ohio, I’ve seen the latest ad from John McCain attacking Barack Obama and accusing him of planning to raise taxes on the middle class. Aside from the fact that it’s — surprise — a lie about Obama’s tax plan, it’s a fundamental lie and exploitation by the campaign about how the American government works.

In case you were otherwise occupied when you took your required Social Studies class in high school, here’s a short and simple version: Barack Obama cannot raise your taxes, and John McCain can’t cut them. No president can do that. The reason being is that there’s this thing called the Constitution of the United States (Article I, Sections 7 & 8) which delegates the power of raising taxes to the Congress. The president can submit budget requests to the Congress, and he can veto budget bills passed by the Congress, but he can’t singlehandedly do anything about your taxes without the consent of the United States Congress. So if taxes go up or go down during a president’s term in office, you can thank your friends in Congress.

I realize that a lot of voters may not be aware of the intricacies of the Constitution, and after the last eight years, I can understand why. But the simple fact is that telling you that a presidential candidate will raise your taxes — or lower them — is bullshit. I suppose I’m more disappointed in the electorate for buying into it than I am disgusted at the political ads that exploit the ignorance.