ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith: Raising Taxes is ‘Shaky’ -- Can Spur Layoffs and Raise Unemployment

By Nicholas Ballasy | May 27, 2009 | 1:24 PM EDT

( - ESPN anchor Stephen A. Smith told that while he applauds some of the policies of President Barack Obama, he is highly skeptical of raising taxes on people making over $250,000 a year and worries that the immense federal spending increases -- $1.3. Trillion -- ultimately will have to be paid by our children and grandchildren.

“I would say I am a bit skeptical about that [raising taxes] simply because when you target big businesses, understand that the private sector, just as much as the public sector, they hire people. People who are poor don’t hire people, and they don’t hire themselves,” Smith told at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner.

Smith continued: “They need somebody to employ them -- so when you’re going after people that are making over $250,000 a year, specifically individuals who employ other people, then what you’re doing is you’re making it for a shaky foundation because what’s going to happen then is – what are they going to do? Take a salary cut and just pay taxes with a smile on their face? No, they’re probably going to lay off somebody which is going to contribute to the unemployment rate, which can make things a bit shaky so I am always skeptical about stuff like that.”

Smith also said celebrities should only get involved in the political process if they know what they are talking about.

“If they know what they’re talking about, yes,” said Smith.  “If they are oblivious to what’s going on and they’re not paying attention, then I would say no. You don’t do it for camera time. You don’t do it for publicity. You do it because you care about this country, the progress it’s making or lack thereof, and you want to address issues that are pertinent and important to you.”

Smith said he has focused his political involvement on education, specifically literacy.

When asked how he would grade President Obama’s performance in office, Smith said it is too early to tell.

“It’s pretty difficult to say,” said Smith. “I think it’s too early to give him a grade. There have been times that I’ve looked at some of the decisions that he’s made and I’ve said, you know what, I applaud that. You know, for example, when you want to go after corporations in terms of people that’s sending business overseas and you want to encourage them to do business here in America, I definitely like that.”

“But when you spend more than $1.3 trillion, I’m a little bit iffy about stuff like that,” Smith told  “Stuff like that makes me a little bit nervous because I’m fiscally conservative in that regard. I don’t like to spend a lot of money because ultimately our children and our grandchildren will be paying for it and I’m very, very mindful of that.”