In his public statement today calling on Congress to extend the Bush tax cuts for people making less than $250,000, President Obama summed up his view of things for us nicely:
– “Right now our priority needs to be giving middle class Americans and small businesses the security they deserve.”
– “I just believe that anybody making over $250,000 should go back to the income tax rates we were paying under Bill Clinton.”
On the first point, it’s worth noting that there’s nothing wrong with security. We all want it for our kids, we all want it for ourselves. But with Obama, the paternalism has reached historic levels. From his public sector bailout disguised as a stimulus bill to his command-and-control healthcare bill to his consumer protection agency to his overall rhetorical stance while talking about the economy, his worldview is based on the miserable idea that all of us need him and Washington to protect us from evil companies, multinationals, and conservatives who would dare turn a profit by privatizing public services.
The human condition for him is framed by a view of people as primarily in search of peace and comfort, rather than opportunity, hope and the “forward” motion he pretends his campaign is about. There are those of us who believe we need a society framed primarily around the idea of opportunity, and there are those like Obama who think it’s all about guaranteeing security. That’s a major fault line in American public life.
On the second point, the “I just believe” says it all. He has never once provided a data-driven explanation for why raising taxes on the wealthy is what the country needs right now. He has said plenty to prove that he simply believes as a matter of faith that raising taxes on the rich helps hit a target defined by a poorly-articulated notion of “justice.” You don’t have to like rich bankers. But we should all just admit that taxing them more highly won’t do much to help us achieve deficit reduction or any other worthwhile public goal Obama talks about. Obama avoids math like the plague. His worldview on this point is pure ideology, nothing more. He’d do us all a service by simply saying so.