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Opinion

Opinion

Obama uses class resentment to pass buck

December 10, 2011

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— 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.

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?

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.

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.

As for those structural problems, Obama has spent three years on signature policies that either ignore or aggravate them:

l A massive stimulus, a gigantic payoff to Democratic interest groups (such as teachers, public sector unions) that will add nearly $1 trillion to the national debt.

l 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.

l 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, on the 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 re-election!

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.

This is populism so crude that it channels not Teddy Roosevelt so much as Hugo Chavez. 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?

Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group. His email address is letters@charleskrauthammer.com.

Comments

Crazy_Larry 2 years, 4 months ago

Charles Krauthammer, another shill of the Establishment. He's bought and paid for to stoke the fires of division amongst the citizenry. All the B.S. spewed concerning "our current economic distress" and "out-of-control entitlements", but no mention at all of defense spending.

Our military budget for FY 2011 was approximately $740 billion in expenses for the Department of Defense (DoD), $141 billion for veteran expenses, and $48 billion in expenses for the Department of Homeland Security, for a total of $929 billion. The DoD baseline budget, excluding supplemental funding for the wars, has grown from $297 billion in FY2001 to a budgeted $534 billion for FY2010, an 81% increase.

Defense spending, 1964 to present: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/86/InflationAdjustedDefenseSpending.PNG

I live Ike. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8y06NS...

Pass me a beer. Go Chefs!

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observant 2 years, 4 months ago

Amazing how many tea baggers and right wing fundies listen to what crap slinger dishes out. And actually take time to defend his BS and in many cases outright un-truths.

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tange 2 years, 4 months ago

Zombie flatulence is a major cause of global warming.

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Armstrong 2 years, 4 months ago

Obama is practicing the tried and true tactic of diversion. If you have no leadership ability, no policy the public will digest, no realistic shot at doing what you promised, when all else fails blame the other guy !

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beatrice 2 years, 4 months ago

Interesting to see someone repeatedly describing a black man in charge as "Big Daddy." I'm surprised that the moderators allow it.

Zombies are often racist.

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beatrice 2 years, 4 months ago

I know my portfolio is doing much better since Obama came into office. Under Bush, it had tanked.

In reading comments on the coaching situation in KU football, it was interesting to see how many people were saying that it would take at least 5 years to turn a football program around and that Gill wasn't given enough time. Something as massive as the United States economy, however, and many of these same people expect things to turn around immediately. Very odd.

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JayhawkFan1985 2 years, 4 months ago

The think that made America great is that everyone was given the opportunity to succeed. Granted we've had problems with this ideal with slavery being the most obvious example. However, the great experiment in American democracy requires a well educated population. Unfortunately, the Republican Party would rather cut taxes than provide for the education of our children.

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sunny 2 years, 4 months ago

How long does Obomby get to keep blaming everyone else for his failure?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

After more than 30 years of Republican policies promoting class warfare against the middle/working class, Obama would have to be a total idiot to ignore the low-hanging fruit they've created for him. (Not that he won't continue to promote a Republican-lite version of the same policies.)

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tbaker 2 years, 4 months ago

The president's approach to the coming campaign shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. His world-view is well known. Dividing Americans, pitting one against the other, shifting blame, none of this should be news to anyone. He really has no choice because he cannot run on his record. A lot of Americans will fall for this BS too, make no mistake. If the man is anything, he is an amazing campaigner. Of course the reaction from the right is equally predictable; shine the hot lights on all the things the President would prefer remained concealed from public view, like his record. So which approach will win? Will the President immunize himself from blame using the bogie man “rich” for all the country’s troubles, or will a factual examination of the abject failure of his policies sway the electorate. He risks much with his approach. This comes off sounding a lot like sour grapes and dodging responsibility to most folks.

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repaste 2 years, 4 months ago

"Charles Krauthammer", is that his real name? Do you know his middle name! Does he write anything but anti-Obama stuff? Do you know how much the RNC pays him?

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Cait McKnelly 2 years, 4 months ago

Buried in the middle of this article is a fallacy so broad you could drive a truck through it. Krauthammer claims we are spending double on education what we spent in 1970. What he neglects to mention is that, after adjustments for inflation rates, the buying power of one dollar in 1970 is equal to almost SIX dollars now. This means that, in actuality, we are spending two thirds less than what we spent in 1970. The real miracle is that kids are doing as well as they are. Seriously, Charlie, do you truly think that all of America are FOX watching, Koolaid drinking fools? Or do you just write to the ones that already buy your BS hook, line and sinker?

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Agnostick 2 years, 4 months ago

There are two kinds of wealthy people:

1) people who have actually earned their wealth, through hard work, talent, innovation in their lifetime.

2) people who inherited their wealth from a previous generation, such as a parent, grandparent, or uncle. For these people, employment is optional--though many of them work just to make sure they can earn some money to pay the capital gains taxes on their inherited/invested wealth. (Also in this group are people who married into their wealth.)

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grammaddy 2 years, 4 months ago

Geez Krauthammer, get a clue.Dem interest groups... teachers. I guess the Dems are the only ones who want 1st class education for their kids.Lord knows the rethugs don't need it, they can always just make up stuff as they go along.Your idiocy amazes me.

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 4 months ago

Another excellent analysis by the most perceptive national columnist writing today. Thanks to the J-W for continuing to publish Mr. Krauthammer's highly incisive columns.

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Liberty_One 2 years, 4 months ago

There are two kinds of wealthy: those that earned on the free market, and those that got it because of special privileges handed out by government. How about we compromise? We can raise the taxes through the roof on those that earn money due to special privileges handed out by government, and lower the taxes on the rest? So defense contractors, banks, pharmaceutical firms, doctors, oil companies etc. can all pay a 75% income tax. The rest of the wealthy can pay 5% income tax.. Any takers?

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its_just_math 2 years, 4 months ago

The real truth is, if Obama could truly redistribute wealth, eventually it'll all fall right back into the same hands and the down-and-outers will find themselves in the same dregs they were in before. As FHNC said above, some folks just can't hack it. I'm always bemused that the brokest loser is tatted from head to toe, has several piercings and seems to never run out of cigs, can be spotted at the local bar any night of the week and has the newest , bestest cutting-edge cell phone and a tricked out car. I've had the same cell phone for 5 years and my truck is 7 years old. Believe me, I could afford the best cell phone and truck out there, but choose not to spend money on stuff I don't really need.

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tange 2 years, 4 months ago

Krauthammer uses crass resentment to pass gas

/ yet another stellar story title from half-trick Charlie

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Gandalf 2 years, 4 months ago

...and Pavlovian pups arrive on the scene to prove my point,

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FalseHopeNoChange 2 years, 4 months ago

Let's face it. Some people ain't going to make it. They will always be poor. They will always need someone to blame for their sad lot in life. Big Daddy's picking on people that do know how to make it will get him some votes, but it will never solve the poor people's inability to care for themselves.

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Cait McKnelly 2 years, 4 months ago

Ahhh 1970. Back when I paid .27/gallon for gas and my dad, already a 16 year veteran on the railroad, brought home 150$/week paychecks and was making good money. If we are spending "twice as much per capita" as what we spent then, in real dollars we're spending a heck of a lot less. /sigh It's the usual smoke and mirrors. I guess there's one born every minute.

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its_just_math 2 years, 4 months ago

You didn't undstand how Obama thinks? Well, here it is right here. If American is gullable enough to buy his line of crapola, they deserve to miserable then. If Obama gets re-elected to a second "mediocre" term (I wish it was just mediocre---it's hideous) say bye-bye to America as we've known it. Just better hope (R's) retain the house and possibly recapture the senate to keep this socialist from banding with the far-left wing of the Dem party and taking us completely down the drain; Obama's true goal in my opinion. You saw what happened the first time Obama had full support of congress, didn't you? Are we better off? No. That's why as CK says, he has no more ideas than to villify and blame the rich---how utterly ridiculous--- and pit the rest of America against one another in a class war.

Anyway, another great piece by CK.

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thirdplanet 2 years, 4 months ago

It's the rich, the powerful, the upperclass. What kind of background do you think Obama comes from.

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thirdplanet 2 years, 4 months ago

Think of the two most messed up industries with rising costs with no rising value, health care and education. And what two industries does the government play too large of a role in, health care and education. Its not mere coincidence, whenever the government gets involved, problems go unsolved.

And of course there's plenty of you who simply can't trust the economists or the businessmen, successful members of the private sector can be swiftly dismissed with accusations of greed.

How do you think the bureaucrat or the politician gets ahead? Our angelic "civil servants" who can do no evil. There the most corrupt individuals in this country, far ahead of our bankers and brokers. Yet we must go to them, for they see all and know all, and will save us from the miseries of this world.

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Gandalf 2 years, 4 months ago

"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. "

And how much have healthcare costs increased? Or food? Or automobiles? Or especially energy costs?

At the same time taxes for the rich have decreased, while middle class's have risen.

Another typical krauthammer crap report aimed at the teapub stupid.

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