The Republican American of Waterbury (Conn.), Sept. 21, 2012
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." — George Orwell
Almost everyone remembers Barack Obama's pitch to Joe the Plumber in 2008: "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." Most, too, have heard of "Julia," the composite American created by the Obama campaign to illustrate the benefits of cradle-to-grave government dependence. Less publicized is his 1998 speech at Loyola University, when he said, "The trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution, because I actually believe in redistribution."
Stripping away the deceit, Obama espouses government that confiscates and transfers money from one group to another. He sees government as Robin Hood, hardly an apt comparison since the sheriff of Nottingham was a government agent. No, when it comes to income and wealth redistribution, government is a robbin' hood.
It is now beyond debate that redistribution has been an unmitigated fiscal, economic, social and cultural failure, and the divisive government dependence it fosters is nothing less than a metastasizing cancer on our nation. Nearly half of Americans pay no income taxes; the only skin they have in the government game is the government largess they get and defend with their votes for candidates who promise to preserve or increase it. The Heritage Foundation's Government Dependence Index has risen by 25 percent since 2005 and 8 percent in the last year alone. Dependence programs today consume a record 70 cents of every dollar the government spends; 80 percent of the $1 trillion farm bill languishing in Congress would help fund a decade's worth of food stamps. For the first time in history, the money each aid recipient gets for health care, welfare, college education, housing and retirement exceeds the per capita disposable income of the people paying the bills.
These damning truths are the result of nearly a century of "spreading the wealth around," underwritten more recently with more than $1 trillion in annual borrowing. Yet the poverty rate has never been higher, and the tens of trillions redistributed over time have accelerated the nation's social, cultural and economic rot.
Today, 91 million Americans work for or are dependent on the federal government. Maybe they and their families, friends and neighbors don't comprise the Obama-beholden 47 percent of the population, as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney indelicately claimed in secretly taped, off-the-cuff remarks at a spring fundraiser. Certainly, millions are unwilling dependents, "the victims" of the Great Recession. But is there any doubt that through redistribution, government has created a permanent underclass of people who are undyingly loyal to Democrats and who indeed see themselves as "victims" of any number of injustices and thus entitled to other people's money?
Romney's remarks set off a firestorm of righteous indignation from Democrats and journalists. But when these same Obama supporters are asked about the president's socialistic proclivities and about the parasitic predispositions of millions of Americans — essentially, whether Romney's remarks were true — they shrug. As Joe Healy of The Los Angeles Times put it, it's "a dog-bites-man story." Ah, universal deceit; it's what Americans have come to expect from the robbin' hoods and their band of merry journalists.
The Rutland (Vt.) Herald, Sept. 20, 2012
One effect of Mitt Romney's crass comments about Americans who pay no income taxes is to expose to public view a radical ideology that most Americans would likely repudiate.
It is a radical and novel view to say that government should not be in the business of redistributing income. Redistributing income is one of the primary functions of any government; the question is whether money is redistributed fairly.
President Reagan referred to the earned income tax credit as one of the greatest anti-poverty programs because it provided a tax credit to low-income workers, creating an incentive to work and helping families lift themselves out of poverty. President George W. Bush expanded the child tax credit, which further reduced the tax burden on families. These were conservative instances of income redistribution designed to enhance economic fairness.
The anti-tax ideology that Romney supports goes far beyond the conservative politics of Reagan and Bush. That is why it is radical. Almost all Republican members of Congress have pledged to vote against any new tax, which means they have chosen to don a radically rigid ideological straitjacket. In fact, the taxes Americans pay now are at an all-time low. But to the radical right, they can never be low enough.
The radical right may have overplayed its hand. President Obama's continuing strength in the polls suggests that the electorate may not be ready to embrace an ideology as constricted and callous as that described by Romney. Is that because, as Romney suggests, a high percentage of voters are on the take? Rather, it appears that voters have a firmer grip on reality than Romney and the right. The political bugaboos of the right no longer frighten voters. It is common sense, not socialism, that government must redistribute wealth. We would not have Social Security, Medicare, veterans benefits, national parks, scientific research, clean air and water, safe air travel, interstate highways, or children free of starvation without a great deal of redistribution.
The plurality of voters who appear to favor Obama is often described in terms of its demographic characteristics. Women favor Obama, as do young people, Hispanics and African-Americans. A better way to view the people who belong to these categories is as Americans. When their numbers favor Obama, that means a majority of Americans favor Obama.
If Obama eventually wins the race, that means a majority of Americans recognize that fair, pragmatically useful redistribution of wealth through taxation and government programs is a reality we cannot back away from. The radical anti-government conservatism that metastasized from the conservatism of Ronald Reagan would disarm us of the means, recognized even by Reagan, for increasing economic justice and for using the government as the catalyst for positive change.
Conservative politics suffered a blow in 2008 because of the economic collapse that showcased the inadequacies of their economic approach. The American people suddenly saw that without proper oversight and regulation, business was prone to dangerous recklessness and corruption.
But conservative ideologues, rather than allow themselves to be chastened by events, doubled down on their message, creating an anti-government program more extreme even than Bush's. In 2010 widespread unhappiness growing out of the Great Recession caused voters to sweep tea party conservatives into office, reversing the liberal turn taken in 2008. But the extreme rhetoric of the right this year could well expose to light the thin gruel that constitutes the tea party message.
One message that Obama needs to hammer home with voters is that they should give him a Congress that will work with him. Republicans in Congress have shown they are interested only in obstruction, even at the cost of prolonging the economic slump. Romney and his running mate criticized the long overdue decision by the Federal Reserve to stimulate the economy, saying economic stimulus would be the equivalent of a sugar high.
In other words, ideological purity is more important than actual jobs in the actual world for actual Americans of whatever category.