On Tuesday, President Obama addressed a crowd in Osawatomie, Kan., purportedly on the state of the economy. It was intended to be reminiscent of one given 100 years earlier by then-President Theodore Roosevelt.
In his address, Obama said, “I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same rules. These aren’t Democratic values or Republican values. These aren’t 1 percent values or 99 percent values. They’re American values. And we have to reclaim them.”
The president repeated, over and over again, “fair shot,” “fair share” and “same rules.” Any doubt that Obama was declaring class warfare was put to rest in this speech.
Let’s examine the phrase, “fair share.” In 2009, the top 1 percent of wage earners in this country shouldered 36.7 percent of the tax burden. This is that same 1 percent the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators find so evil and repulsive. These are also the same top wage earners our president claims are not doing their “fair share.” Taking it further, the top 5 percent pay 58.7 percent of the nation’s tax burden, and the top 10 percent pay 70.5 percent.
In order to balance the budget, the president suggests that the rich pay an even greater “fair share” by eliminating the Bush tax cuts. We’re currently facing a $1.35 trillion deficit. Eliminating the Bush tax cuts would place an additional $70 billion in the public coffers, or a measly 5 percent of the deficit. As conservatives have been saying all along, it’s not a revenue problem — it’s a spending problem.
As a side note, my friend Ira recently pointed out that whenever the president discusses eliminating the Bush tax cuts, he calls it “returning to the status quo.” When he talks about ending the payroll tax holiday, he calls it a “tax increase.” He can’t have it both ways. The payroll tax, by the way, is the only thing funding Social Security and Medicare. These two programs are already bankrupt. Eliminating the payroll tax will only hasten the process.
The president also lamented that we aren’t all playing “by the same rules.” When companies like Solyndra and SunPower receive sweetheart deals with federal funds simply because they’re “green,” then the president is correct: These companies aren’t playing by the same rules. When General Motors is strong-armed into reorganizing in a manner contrary to all existing bankruptcy law in order to favor the Union of Auto Workers over the rights of bond holders, then the president is correct. GM is not only playing by different rules, but the rules it’s playing by are anathema to that which gave America its greatness. It’s not “crony-capitalism.” It’s “crony-socialism.”
The problem with the president’s argument is that these different rules were created by his own administration. If he has a problem with people playing by different rules, I suggest he take it up with the man in his mirror.
I attended an Allen West town hall meeting a few months back in Palm Beach Gardens. At the entrance to the hall, a young man clutched a sign that implored, “Stop middle class genocide!” The person holding that sign could just as well have been our president. Neither the president nor the young man understands that capitalism — the free enterprise system — is what created the middle class.
Capitalism gave the ordinary person with a dream the ability to make it on his own. It gave each and every one of us with an idea for a new or improved product or service the ability to test that idea out in the marketplace. When we’re successful, we create both wealth and jobs in the process, neither of which the government is capable of creating. If we’re unsuccessful, we’re free to try it all again until we get it right.
Using the president’s own words, capitalism, the free enterprise system, isn’t about “Democratic values or Republican values. These aren’t 1 percent values or 99 percent values. They’re (uniquely) American values. And we have to reclaim them.”
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