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    Barack Got Enemy

    Barack Got Enemy

    What is it with this President? Obama has an obsessive need to find enemies against whom to campaign. When Obama’s presidency is over, hopefully in four years (but likely eight years) there will be two sets of psychologists: Those who provide therapy to the American population which has seen its life savings and economic system destroyed, and those who analyze the psychosis of the Demonizer-in-Chief.

    During the presidential campaign, Obama singled out the wealthiest 5% of Americans as the object of his scorn:

    The Obama campaign contended that the overwhelming majority of Americans would not see a tax increase under his plan, only the wealthiest 5% or so.

    Time and again, the wealthiest 5% were singled out in Obama’s campaign as an enemy against whom the rest of America could rally. It was a successful tactic mathematically.

    Attacking the wealthiest 5% was enough to get Obama elected, but not enough to get most Americans to agree to socialize the economy by paying for free health care and education for everyone through college. So Obama needed to refine his attack to an even narrower subset of the population, the top 2%:

    President Obama has laid out the most ambitious and expensive domestic agenda since LBJ, and now all he has to do is figure out how to pay for it. On Tuesday, he left the impression that we need merely end “tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of Americans,” and he promised that households earning less than $250,000 won’t see their taxes increased by “one single dime.”

    But even attacking the top 2% isn’t enough to convince Americans to adopt a command economy, so now Obama has invoked the dreaded lobbyists:

    … I know these steps won’t sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they’re gearing up for a fight as we speak.

    My message to them is this: So am I.

    Oh, please. Obama’s multi-trillion dollar spending spree is a lobbyist’s wet dream. More money will be made by more lobbyists divvying up this pork than in the collective history of the United States.

    Attacking lobbyists is not the point of Obama’s latest ploy. Rather, painting anyone who opposes him as a “lobbyist” is the point. In attacking the “lobbyists” Obama is doing what he did on the issue of race during the campaign: Anyone who opposes me doesn’t just have a different opinion, they are evil and dangerous to the rest of you. This tactic simultaneously generates support among the majority and silences the minority.

    Other presidents have been accused of using “enemies” as a political rallying point. Almost invariably, however, these enemies have been foreign (the “evil empire” and “axis of evil”). Obama is the first president “in my adult life” to set American against American, to create enemies at home as a political rallying point, to create a climate in which law-abiding American citizens are singled out as being worthy of attack.

    Yep, Barack has met the enemy, and he is us.

    For more on this, check out my prior posts The Revolt of the Kulaks Has Begun, The Last Bull Capitulates and Not Too Early For “I Told You So”.


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    “Other presidents have been accused of using “enemies” as a political rallying point. Almost invariably, however, these enemies have been foreign (the “evil empire” and “axis of evil”).”

    Weren’t you paying attentino when Clinton did it? Obama isn’t the first President to attack Rush Limbaugh, you know. The Democrats explicitly attacked “rightwing evangelicals” before the 1994 elections, believing (naively) that they were a tiny minority and therefore were safe to go after. The “Politics of Division” is an old trick, goes back to the beginnings of the Republic, actually. Demogagues find someone to scapegoat they think can’t or won’t fight back. Usually they’re right: The “rich” are pretty much indifferent to political attacks: they pay lobbyists to keep that all pretty much empty rhetoric.

    RonClark: “But when you have a largely healthy economy – but a large Federal Debt – doesn’t cutting tax rates distort economic activity?

    What distorts economic activity is having different tax rates for different people. If you cut all tax rates equally across the board, you’ll have the same level of distortion you started with, but greater economic activity in each tax bracket. If you cut just one, or a few, tax brackets, then yes you’ll ‘distort’ economic activity, in that you’ll have a different overall distortion than you started with.

    I’ve yet to see a tax cut “raise tax revenues” (as some point out has happened in the past) without a concurrent increase in the deficit.

    What usually happens is that the votes to pass the tax cut are bought by reciprocal votes to increase spending, more than canceling out the revenue effect of the tax cut. It remains the case that lower taxes equals more money in people’s pockets.

    “What distorts economic activity is having different tax rates for different people.”

    By that simplistic statement, one can easily jump off to the premise that any government intervention in the economy – from building roads, to funding schools, to how they place fire stations and police stations in the community, to deciding to buy airplanes from a plant in Alabama instead of Washington State – all distort the economy.

    As a matter of pragmatism, once government enters the arena of providing public services and defense, it will have to make decisions based on what it considers optimal and sustainable. In the case of tax rates, if you apply them uniformly at the rates needed to balance even the pre-meltdown budget, you will end up killing off the ability of much of the lower rung workers ability to pay for things like food, housing, medical costs, etc. Eventually, this would actually create a demand for greater government intervention in providing those services.

    If Joe earns $35K a year, a 35% tax rate would significantly affect their ability to raise a family. If Pete earns $350K a year, a 35% tax rate would have a very minimal effect to provide the basic necessities of life.

    We can declare that government has no point in actually ensuring that Joe can raise a family – that’s a matter of policy difference. One can argue that with reduced taxes on the wealthy, enough economic activity will result to ensure that any working Joe can raise his family – I believe that’s an easily falsifiable proposition. I personally don’t believe in tax “fairness”, since nothing in life is “fair”. I believe in tax pragmatism and sustainability – and since the 1970’s (with a short period of reversal in the 90’s) we’ve done a very bad job at pragmatism and sustainability.

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