Friday, November 16, 2012

Symbolic Line In The Sand

President Obama has drawn a line in the sand over “taxing the rich.” He has drawn this line because, according to him, “we cannot afford” the tax cuts for the rich and because “it is only fair that people like me,” he says, “who can easily afford it, should pay a little more” in order to reduce the deficit.

This is absolutely thrilling his supporters almost to the point of orgasm, not because anything will actually have been accomplished, as I will proceed to illustrate, but merely because he will have scored a point over Republicans and the evil rich. Accomplishing anything is irrelevant in today’s politics; scoring symbolic points is everything.

This magnificent victory that Obama is purportedly going to win over Republicans and the evil rich will, according to the Congressional Budget Office, net $823 billion dollars in ten years, which will reduce the $1.3 trillion deficit by almost two thirds. Oh, wait. I forgot that we cite the deficit in one year numbers and modifications to the deficit in ten year numbers so that taxpayers will think that we are making changes that are actually significant. So this thunder and lightening and the line in the sand is over $82.3 billion per year, which will reduce the deficit by 6.3% in the coming year. Well now, isn’t that one hell of a victory!

That’s assuming that he actually scores the victory. Notice that the line is in the sand, not jackhammered into concrete. Obama only draws lines in sand, where they can easily be erased.

This $82.3 billion tax cut that we cannot afford is exceeded by the Obama payroll tax cut which amounts to $100 billion per year according to the Trustees Report of the Social Security Administration, which does report in one year increments. How is it that we can afford $100 billion per year in Obama tax cus, when we cannot afford $82.3 billion per year in Bush tax cuts which were there first?

Obama claims adamantly that this is not “taking from the rich to give to the poor.” I would possibly have no real objection if it was that; if he admitted to it and if it was indeed to the poor. But he does not admit it and it is to the middle class, not to the poor. The poor never enter into any political discussion these days, and certainly not into this one. Obama, who used to work for the poor, doesn’t even seem to know that they exist today.

Instead, we get this bogus argument about how “we can’t afford” one tax cut, and he replaces it with another tax cut, a larger one, which he claims is essential and omits entirely from the affordability discussion. Needless to say, his supporters are entirely on board with that.

The shift in taxes may actually be the best policy, but the method is dishonest and, worse, stupid. What should be done, if this is actually the needs of the nation, is the introduction of a comprehensive new tax policy, as has been done by previous presidents of both parties. Obama is trying to obtain a new car by changing one part at a time on his old car.

Policy is what leadership is all about, and Obama is still doesn’t get that. He is endlessly tinkering with details and never provides an overriding policy that tells us where he wants this nation to go. After four years in office, he is still looking for a parade to form so that he can get in front of it and call himself a leader.

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