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Archive for Saturday, September 24, 2011

Obama returning to his ‘soak the rich’ roots

September 24, 2011

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— In a 2008 debate, Charlie Gibson asked Barack Obama about his support for raising capital gains taxes, given the historical record of government losing net revenue as a result. Obama persevered: “Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.”

A most revealing window into our president’s political core: To impose a tax that actually impoverishes our communal bank account (the U.S. Treasury) is ridiculous. It is nothing but punitive. It benefits no one — not the rich, not the poor, not the government. For Obama, however, it brings fairness, which is priceless.

Now that he’s president, Obama has actually gone and done it. He’s just proposed a $1.5 trillion tsunami of tax hikes featuring a “Buffett rule” that, although as yet deliberately still fuzzy, clearly includes raising capital gains taxes.

He also insists again upon raising marginal rates on “millionaire” couples making $250,000 or more. But roughly half the income of small businesses (i.e., those filing individual returns) would be hit by this tax increase. Therefore, if we are to believe Obama’s own logic that his proposed business tax credits would increase hiring, then surely this tax hike will reduce small-business hiring.

But what are jobs when fairness is at stake? Fairness trumps growth. Fairness trumps revenue. Fairness trumps economic logic.

Obama himself has said that “you don’t raise taxes in a recession.” Why then would he risk economic damage when facing re-election? Because these proposals have no chance of being enacted, many of them having been rejected by the Democratic-controlled Congress of Obama’s first two years in office.

Moreover, this is not an economic, or jobs, or debt-reduction plan in the first place. This is a campaign manifesto. This is anti-millionaire populism as premise for his re-election. And as such, it is already working.

Obama’s Democratic base is electrified. On the left, the new message is playing to rave reviews. It has rekindled the enthusiasm of his core constituency — the MoveOn, Hollywood liberal, Upper West Side precincts best described years ago by John Updike: “Like most of her neighborhood, she was a fighting liberal, fighting to have her money taken from her.”

Added Updike: “For all her exertions, it never was.” But now with Obama — it will! Turns out, Obama really was the one they had been waiting for.

That is: the new Obama, today’s soak-the-rich, veto-threatening, self-proclaimed class warrior. Except that the new Obama is really the old Obama — the one who, upon entering office in the middle of a deep economic crisis, and determined not to allow “a serious crisis to go to waste” (to quote his then chief of staff), exploited the (presumed) malleability of a demoralized and therefore passive citizenry to enact the largest Keynesian stimulus in recorded history, followed by the quasi-nationalization of one-sixth of the economy that is health care.

Considering the political cost — massive electoral rebuke by an infuriated 2010 electorate — these are the works of a conviction politician, one deeply committed to his own social-democratic vision.

That politician now returns. Obama’s new populism surely is a calculation that his halfhearted feints to the center after the midterm “shellacking” were not only unconvincing but would do him no good anyway with a stagnant economy, 9 percent unemployment and a staggering $4 trillion of new debt.

But this is more than a political calculation. It is more than just a pander to his base. It is a pander to himself: Obama is a member of his base. He believes this stuff. It is an easy and comfortable political shift for him, because it’s a shift from a phony centrism back to his social-democratic core, from positioning to authenticity.

The authentic Obama is a leveler, a committed social democrat, a staunch believer in the redistributionist state, a tribune, above all, of “fairness” — understood as government-imposed and government-enforced equality.

That’s why “soak the rich” is not just a campaign slogan to rally the base. It’s a mission, a vocation. It’s why for all its gratuitous cynicism and demagoguery, Obama’s populist Rose Garden lecture on Monday was delivered with such obvious — and unusual — conviction.

He’s returned to the authenticity of his radical April 2009 “New Foundation” address (at Georgetown University) that openly proclaimed his intent to fundamentally transform America.

Good. There’s something to be said for authenticity. A choice not an echo, said Barry Goldwater. The country will soon choose, although not soon enough.

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

Comments

docputer 2 years, 6 months ago

If not Herman, then who from the current field. Huntman or Johnson?

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JerryStubbs 2 years, 6 months ago

Yeah, that's why he got his law degree from one of the most prestigious schools in the country.

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its_just_math 2 years, 6 months ago

FHNC, the math does not work, and Herman won't work for the left. He needs to be more like 2008. Don't you get the math?

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FalseHopeNoChange 2 years, 6 months ago

I see your liberal half white man and raise you a tea party, racist tea party that is, real black man.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/sep/24/herman-cain-wins-cpac-florida-straw-poll/

Cuban Rubio will make a nice tea party pair. Pairs beat high King's everytime.

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its_just_math 2 years, 6 months ago

Obama's home life as a child did not prepare him for life, and life did not prepare him for the presidency, but the MSM took up the slack.

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bobberboy 2 years, 6 months ago

Great news - he's got my vote !

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FalseHopeNoChange 2 years, 6 months ago

Liberals think it is fair to take other peoples money. They think that it is theirs to begin with I guess. Mz Warren thinks so. She, a flaming liberal, thinks that the poor built the streets you use, so she thinks it's fair to take your money for using it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htX2us... http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/09/why-businesses-should-fear-elizabeth-warren/245597/

They will lie to get it. They will beg to get it. They will hold their breaths if you don't. What's a mother to do?

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its_just_math 2 years, 6 months ago

Obama thinks rebuilding roads, bridges, airports, sewer systems and docks will turn it all around. Good luck with that, my President Child.

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its_just_math 2 years, 6 months ago

Hmmm....'choice'. The left wants choice for almost everything; except the tax rate you pay.

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Cait McKnelly 2 years, 6 months ago

No, we shouldn't force people to donate money against their will. You. re right that it's not fair. OTOH, is it fair that these same people who refuse to share willingly are also allowed to be taxed at a lesser rate than those who make far less money and are forced to pay a far greater percentage of their income, to the advantage of those that already, obviously, have more than enough? It's ironic to me that those of the wealthiest that are willing to share are also willing to be taxed on their income at a greater rate to share that wealth with all Americans. Catch David Koch doing that.

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Cait McKnelly 2 years, 6 months ago

http://money.msn.com/investing/the-10-richest-americans-forbes.aspx?cp-documentid=6855629&GT1=33002

http://givingpledge.org/#enter

Take a look at the first link. Now take a look at the second link and notice, not who is on it, but who is NOT on it. Charles Koch David Koch Christie Walton (Walmart) Sheldon Adelson (who owns casinos!) Jim Walton Alice Walton These people are among the top ten billionaires in this country and they have no interest in doing anything but accumulating more wealth. Why? There are only so many homes you can own, so many designer clothes you can buy, so many cars you can drive. What's the point of accumulating that kind of wealth and doing nothing but sitting on it? (Contributing to political parties doesn't count.) These people are privileged. They could do a world of good with their money and choose not to. It speaks volumes. (It also speaks volumes, to me, that the top three billionaires in the country are on the list.)

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Cait McKnelly 2 years, 6 months ago

Obama is not a "brown skinned, antiwar, socialist who passes out free healthcare". You're thinking of Jesus. On that note, Krauthammer really needs to retire. It must be awful to no longer be a real political pundit, just old and irrelevant.

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camper 2 years, 6 months ago

Soak the rich? Hmmm, let's see. If you made 500k (after all deductions) the extra taxes you would pay are:

3% x ($500,000 - $250,000) = $7,500.

This is assuming the Bush cuts are reversed, and income above 250k is increased from 36% to 39%.

This is chump change. Give us a break Kruthenhamler.

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bearded_gnome 2 years, 6 months ago

But what are jobs when fairness is at stake? Fairness trumps growth. Fairness trumps revenue. Fairness trumps economic logic.

Obama himself has said that “you don’t raise taxes in a recession.” Why then would he risk economic damage when facing re-election? Because these proposals have no chance of being enacted, many of them having been rejected by the Democratic-controlled Congress of Obama’s first two years in office.

Moreover, this is not an economic, or jobs, or debt-reduction plan in the first place. This is a campaign manifesto. This is anti-millionaire populism as premise for his re-election. And as such, it is already working.

---+++++!

"he believes this stuff."

---well said Charles, roll on bro!

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verity 2 years, 6 months ago

Destroying the working class will eventually affect the upper classes. If there is no viable working class, stuff will not get bought. If stuff doesn't get bought, the economy tanks.

You can be against materialism and think people buy too much stuff (which I do), but it is what fuels the economy.

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beatrice 2 years, 6 months ago

Giving massive tax cuts that greatly impact the wealthy during times of mounting debt and war is a form of class warfare.

I don't recall conservatives claiming Reagan was trying to soak the rich during his time in office, yet the top tax rate under Reagan was much, much higher than what Obama seeks in eliminating the "temporary" tax cuts enacted by the Bush administration.

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kugrad 2 years, 6 months ago

Class warfare from the rich has almost destroyed the middle class while the rich have had a 6-fold increase in their annual incomes. There is a class war and it is being waged against us.

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 6 months ago

Would somebody please take the Mope aside and explain the difference between "Intercontinental" and "transcontinental"? A Nobel Prize winning clever dude shouldn't keep making such a stupid error.

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FalseHopeNoChange 2 years, 6 months ago

Soak the Poor!?! That is a good one. That is like getting blood from a turnip. Liberal innuendo tells themselves that the reason the poor are poor is because people that do, take it from people that can't. It's Bush's fault. It's always someone else or a natural disaster or...who knows what, that makes the poor the way they are.

Obama can't help himself. He is a little man, given an office derived for reasons that Harry Reid described, that he and his wife have been soaking for all it's worth.

Soaking the poor is amazingly funny.

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average 2 years, 6 months ago

Do you seriously think that not a single iota of the pain of getting out of this mess should fall on the upper class? Because in every service being cut, the cuts fall pretty much exclusively on the lower 90%.

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Mike Ford 2 years, 6 months ago

math. amnesia serves you well....please forget bush thats what you people do.... it makes it easier to realize how much of a collossal blunder 2000 to 2008 was....but you know if one isn't smart denial works best...

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its_just_math 2 years, 6 months ago

"This is not class warfare, it's math".

Obama: worst president in the history of the US-----undeniably the worst.

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 6 months ago

Gandalf and wounded_soldier, how many businesses have you started that wound up employing many of your fellow citizens and providing sustenance to them and their families? Increased taxation and government regulation severely damage Americans' opportunities to start and grow businesses. Is the continued stifling of business initiative in America by the type of government fascism promoted by Obama and his cronies what you really want?

Gandalf, if you want to see gasoline prices go down, then work to elect those who favor vastly increased oil production in America by Americans. Wounded_soldier, if you want to help the middle class, then work to elect those who favor increased job creation through lower tax rates on business and investment and significantly decreased government regulation, starting with the outright repeal of Obamacare and Dodd-Frank.

You will never get what you want by "soaking the rich." All that Obama and other government-fed babies like him really want is to punish financially successful people for their success, nothing more.

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Abdu Omar 2 years, 6 months ago

Yes, Gandalf, that is exactly as I see it, too. Why do we allow the Repugs to constantly fight for the rich when it is the middle class that is hurting? When did this class idea come to being? When are we going to learn that if one man is starving, we don't have a banquet and not invite him? It is time the American People pull together and stop the war in Washington.

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Gandalf 2 years, 6 months ago

Obama "soak the rich" versus repub "soak the poor". Get gasoline costs down to around $2.00 a gallon and I bet the economy world wide would perk up.

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