In 2007, then-senator Barack Obama insisted that the coming presidential primary- and general-election campaigns “shouldn’t be about making each other look bad, they should be about figuring out how we can all do some good for this precious country of ours. That’s our mission.”
“And in this mission,” he continued, “our rivals won’t be one another, and I would assert it won’t even be the other party. It’s going to be cynicism that we’re fighting against.”
My how things have changed.
I guess I missed the moment when Obama hung his “Mission Accomplished” banner. Because from where I’m sitting, it looks more like the president not only lost his battle against cynicism, he defected to the other side.
And don’t forget about the New Tone and “Civility”. The Democrats surely have.
Except inequality isn’t the cause of these problems, stagnating wages and unemployment are. But Obama wants to talk about inequality because it puts him on the convenient side of populist anger.
Sounding as if he were still running against George W. Bush, Obama laid the blame for our problems on the “most expensive tax cuts for the wealthy in history.” Of course, he leaves out that those tax cuts also went to the middle class.
“Some billionaires have a tax rate as low as 1 percent,” Obama barked. “That is the height of unfairness.” Except, when the Washington Post asked the White House for evidence to support the claim, an official confessed they “had no actual data to back up the president’s assertion.”
That’s okay. Who cares about the facts when you’re fighting to make America safe for cynicism again? (Jonah Goldberg)
So with that problem solved…we move onto the economy…
Charles Krauthammer: The president has nothing to run on but crude populism.
In the first month of his presidency, Barack Obama averred that if in three years he hadn’t alleviated the nation’s economic pain, he’d be a “one-term proposition.”
When three-quarters of Americans think the country is on the “wrong track” and even Bill Clinton calls the economy “lousy,” how then to run for a second term? Traveling Tuesday to Osawatomie, Kan., site of a famous 1910 Teddy Roosevelt speech, Obama laid out the case.It seems that he and his policies have nothing to do with the current state of things. Sure, presidents are ordinarily held accountable for economic growth, unemployment, national indebtedness (see Obama, above). But not this time. Responsibility, you see, lies with the rich.
Or, as the philosophers of Zuccotti Park call them, the 1 percent. For Obama, these rich are the ones holding back the 99 percent. The “breathtaking greed of a few” is crushing the middle class. If only the rich paid their “fair share,” the middle class would have a chance. Otherwise, government won’t have enough funds to “invest” in education and innovation, the golden path to the sunny uplands of economic growth and opportunity.
Aka, spend even more!
Where to begin? A country spending twice as much per capita on education as it did in 1970 with zero effect on test scores is not underinvesting in education. It’s mis-investing. As for federally directed spending on innovation — like Solyndra? Ethanol? The preposterously subsidized, flammable Chevy Volt? (which only met 60% of its very underwhelming sales targets to begin with)
Our current economic distress is attributable to myriad causes: globalization, expensive high-tech medicine, a huge debt burden, a burst housing bubble largely driven by precisely the egalitarian impulse that Obama is promoting (government aggressively pushing “affordable housing” that turned out to be disastrously unaffordable), an aging population straining the social safety net. Yes, growing inequality is a problem throughout the Western world. But Obama’s pretense that it is the root cause of this sick economy is ridiculous.
As is his solution, that old perennial: selective abolition of the Bush tax cuts. As if all that ails us, all that keeps the economy from humming and the middle class from advancing, is a 4.6-point hike in marginal tax rates for the rich.
Yes, Democrats really do think this is the devil. Then they propose a tax cut that will cost billions and will make the already bankrupt Social Security debt EVEN WORSE (this would be the payroll tax- the one that funds Social Security to begin with – so if it is getting even less money pour down that rat hole the debt rats are going to get even bigger!)
Oh, and the Democrats were going to pay for this by…<<drumroll>> increasing taxes on rich people!! Ta Da!
So wreck play class warfare (“you can’t possibly be against it”) cause even more Social Security debt (so it will have to be bailed out) and raise taxes on the rich all at the same time. What a smorgasbord of liberal hate and fear! They love it!
This, in a country $15 trillion in debt with out-of-control entitlements systematically starving every other national need. This obsession with a sock-it-to-the-rich tax hike that, at most, would have reduced this year’s deficit from $1.30 trillion to $1.22 trillion is the classic reflex of reactionary liberalism — anything to avoid addressing the underlying structural problems, which would require modernizing the totemic programs of the New Deal and Great Society.
And no liberal can do that. They are the two of the 3 Holy Grails of Liberalism (ObamaCare being the third- being able to control who lives and who dies).
It’s just not “fair”.
And if you just give it more time it’ll work (The New Deal is around 80 years old BTW)
As for those structural problems, Obama has spent three years on signature policies that either ignore or aggravate them:
A massive stimulus, a gigantic payoff to Democratic interest groups (such as teachers and public-sector unions) that will add nearly $1 trillion to the national debt.
A sweeping federally run reorganization of health care that (a) cost Congress a year, (b) created an entirely new entitlement in a nation hemorrhaging from unsustainable entitlements, (c) introduced new levels of uncertainty into an already stagnant economy.
High-handed regulation, best exemplified by Obama’s failed cap-and-trade legislation, promptly followed by an EPA trying to impose the same conventional-energy-killing agenda by administrative means.
Moreover, one issue that already enjoys a bipartisan consensus — the need for fundamental reform of a corrosive, corrupted tax code that misdirects capital and promotes unfairness — Obama did nothing, ignoring the recommendations of several bipartisan commissions, including his own.
In Kansas, Obama lamented that millions “are now forced to take their children to food banks.” You have to admire the audacity. That’s the kind of damning observation the opposition brings up when you’ve been in office three years. Yet Obama summoned it to make the case for his reelection!
Why? Because, you see, he bears no responsibility for the current economic distress. It’s the rich. And, like Horatius at the bridge, Obama stands with the American masses against the soulless plutocrats.
And the Republicans are strictly FOR the same plutocrats so if you hate them, you hate Republicans!
Thus, “Vote for me! the other guy’s an asshole!”
This is populism so crude that it channels not Teddy Roosevelt so much as Hugo Chávez. But with high unemployment, economic stagnation, and unprecedented deficits, what else can Obama say?
He can’t run on stewardship. He can’t run on policy. His signature initiatives — the stimulus, Obamacare, and the failed cap-and-trade — will go unmentioned in his campaign ads. Indeed, they will be the stuff of Republican ads.
What’s left? Class resentment. Got a better idea?
And Racism. I can’t wait for that one again…