Obama’s re­lent­less war on the Amer­i­can dream

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - David Lim­baugh

It’s prob­a­bly poor form to pig­gy­back onto an­other colum­nist’s work, but Wall Street Jour­nal colum­nist Daniel Henninger’s dis­turb­ing dis­cov­er­ies about Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s bud­get sum­mary jus­tify an ex­cep­tion. Those not blinded by the Obama cult fog have pro­duced abun­dant ev­i­dence of Mr. Obama’s grudge against cap­i­tal­ism, but Mr. Henninger’s rev­e­la­tions are hard to top.

De­spite Mr. Obama’s later de­nials, he was most se­ri­ous when he cava­lierly told Joe the Plumber he wanted to “spread the wealth around.” We’ve seen it born out in his poli­cies so far and in the prom­ises of those to come.

He will re­store the Clin­ton tax hikes on higher-in­come earn­ers, but there is so much more. He’ll re­duce the ef­fec­tive char­i­ta­ble gift de­duc­tion, thus re­duc­ing char­i­ta­ble giv­ing. This is no sur­prise, though, be­cause he be­lieves “char­ity” is the prov­ince of gov­ern­ment — not the pri­vate sec­tor.

He’ll im­pose a cap and trade tax on cor­po­ra­tions un­der the pre­tense of mak­ing them “greener,” raise the tax rates on cap­i­tal gains and div­i­dends, re- verse wel­fare re­form, and na­tion­al­ize health care.

He’ll elim­i­nate the ceil­ing on pay­roll tax con­tri­bu­tions, which is presently about $110,000. This will be a ma­jor hit to those earn­ing more than $110,000, not that Obama cultists will have any sym­pa­thy for those greedy ben­e­fi­cia­ries of life’s lot­tery, to bor­row from the Al Gore ver­nac­u­lar.

Some might ar­gue that this is only fair be­cause the en­tire in­come of lower-in­come earn­ers is sub­ject to that tax. But to make that ar­gu­ment sur­ren­ders any il­lu­sion that this tax funds So­cial Se­cu­rity. If you elim­i­nate the ceil­ing, higher-in­come earn­ers will pay ex­or­bi­tant amounts into a myth­i­cal fund (it’s never been seg­re­gated from gen­eral rev­enue) with no ex­pec­ta­tion of get­ting ap­pre­cia­bly more back on re­tire­ment. Fair­ness? Only if you be­lieve the wealthy should be pun­ished.

Funny you should men­tion that, be­cause it’s pre­cisely what our pres­i­dent ap­pears to be­lieve, which brings me back to Mr. Henninger, who took the trou­ble to read the pres­i­dent‘s bud­get sum­mary for lay read­ers, “A New Era of Re­spon­si­bil­ity: Re­new­ing Amer­ica’s Prom­ise.”

Mr. Henninger di­rects us to a chart on Page 11, crafted by French economists Thomas Piketty and Em­manuel Saez (“rock stars of the in­tel­lec­tual left”), which pur­ports to show that beginning with the Rea­gan era, the top 1 per­cent of in­come earn­ers in the United States have re­ceived an in­creas­ing share of the na­tional in­come pie.

Mr. Obama re­gards this trend as nec­es­sar­ily sin­is­ter, as in­di­cated by his em­path­i­cally ar­tic­u­lated ver­dict that the fi­nan­cially suc­cess­ful must have bro­ken the rules. On Page 5, Mr. Obama says, “While mid­dle-class fam­i­lies have been play­ing by the rules, liv­ing up to their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as neigh­bors and cit­i­zens, those at the com­mand­ing heights of our econ­omy have not.” “Pru­dent in­vest­ments in ed­u­ca­tion, clean en­ergy, health care, and in­fra­struc­ture were sac­ri­ficed for huge tax cuts for the wealthy and well-con­nected.” “There’s noth­ing wrong with mak­ing money, but there is some­thing wrong when we al­low the play­ing field to be tilted so far in the fa­vor of so few. [. . .] It’s a legacy of ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity, and it is our duty to change it.”

Some economists dis­pute the Piketty-Saez graph and con­tend that mar­ginal tax cuts have given higher-in­come pro­duc­ers less rea­son to shift their in­come into tax shelters, thus ac­count­ing for some of the higher tax­able in­come shown in the graph.

But a more im­por­tant point is that Mr. Obama is ratcheting up his class war­fare to lev­els that would make Marx­ists blush. This self-pro­fessed uniter is sow­ing dis­trust and di­vi­sive­ness among Amer­i­cans by de­mo­niz­ing groups of peo­ple and ap­peal­ing to our baser in­stincts of envy and jeal­ousy, in de­fi­ance of God’s com­mand­ments against cov­et­ing.

Mr. Obama is send­ing un­mis­tak­able sig­nals that he has an un­con­ven­tional no­tion — to say the least — about the Amer­i­can dream. It’s as if he’s say­ing, “It’s fine to as­pire to fi­nan­cial suc­cess, but only to a point, be­yond which you’ll in­cur the puni­tive wrath of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.”

It’s one thing to main­tain that up­per-in­come earn­ers should pay higher tax rates be­cause they are bet­ter able to shoul­der the bur­den for es­sen­tial gov­ern­ment ser­vices. But it‘s con­sti­tu­tional blas­phemy to claim that the tax code should be used as a weapon against the wealthy and that the state should be the tyran­ni­cal ar­biter of how in­come is dis­trib­uted.

It’s hardly sur­pris­ing that Mr. Obama de­gen­er­ated into in­co­her­ent bab­bling when un­con­vinc­ingly deny­ing his so­cial­ism to a New York Times re­porter. But given his war on cap­i­tal­ism and achieve­ment, isn’t it time we brought this sub­ject out in the open in­stead of clos­ing our eyes and pre­tend­ing we all ac­cept Amer­ica’s free mar­ket tra­di­tions?

Or would you pre­fer not in­vok­ing the po­lit­i­cally in­cor­rect terms “Marx­ist” or “so­cial­ist” un­til Mr. Obama’s statist poli­cies have worked their magic to bank­rupt Amer­ica and spread the mis­ery among Amer­i­cans in a re­verse trick­le­down ef­fect?

David Lim­baugh is a na­tion­ally syndicated colum­nist.

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