"I Wouldn't Even be Adverse to a Tax Increase Across the Board"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 30 2012 1:32 PM

"I Wouldn't Even be Adverse to a Tax Increase Across the Board"

The Romney campaign is not done with "you didn't build that." Not hardly. Today, as the candidate tours Poland, his surrogates are making 18 campaign stops, from a "We Did Build This Victory Party and BBQ" in Appleton, Wis., to a Dubuque, Iowa capitalism rally at the Naughty Dog Cafe.

One of the Obama-shaming events would be held at Belmont TV in Arlington, Va., a short drive from my office and an even shorter drive from my old NoVa apartment. Ken Sickmen, the second-generation owner of the shop, stood ready in a pink bowling short as RNC staffers put "BUILT BY US" logos on the Sony, LG, and Sharp TVs near where Newt Gingrich would speak. "You didn't built that" didn't offend him, particularly. He'd been talking (to reporters and others) about his sentiments since 2010.

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"No single thing that President Obama has said has anything to do with my feelings," he said. "I saw this quote in the newspaper, sure, but that's not what caused me to feel the way that I feel. That's politics. I'm not a politician. My feeling is that we need to change the atmosphere. There are times when I feel -- and I hope I'm not being paranoid -- times when I feel that the small businessman is the enemy. That's crazy!"

Republicans have twinned the Obama quote with the policy he's running on -- tax hikes on income over $250,000, the tax increase he's been for ever since 2007. Would a tax increase like that hurt Sickmen?

"It did before," he said. "It probably wouldn't now, because I have less business now. Look, I wouldn't even be adverse to a tax increase across the board, relatively, if we can get the economy moving. If you make more money, you're willing to pay a little more in taxes. If you can't pay your bills, you can't pay more in taxes. It's all relative."

As two dozen reporters prepped for the Gingrich remarks, I watched the door to see if anybody's shopping would be affected. Nope. Nobody walked in.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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