Friday, August 14, 2009
It's not that Americans are against President Obama's efforts to redistribute our wealth more than the government had already been doing.
It's that he's going about it all wrong.
Sure, he was masterful during the campaign. He promised the majority of taxpayers that they wouldn't see a tax increase -- that only rich folks earning more than $250,000 a year would.
It was a winning strategy.
In America, the bottom 50 percent of income earners pay virtually no federal income taxes, whereas the top 20 percent pay about 85 percent.
Who can blame a silver-tongued politician for promising government goodies to the bottom 50 percent -- while promising to make the top 20 percent pay for them?
Well, such promises helped Obama win the presidency by a healthy margin. He and his team continued the theme as they began governing.
First, they gave us the $787 billion stimulus bill. It had little to do with stimulating anything, but since the "rich" would bear the costs, many folks didn't care.
Then they gave us a nearly $4 trillion budget that was packed with waste and goodies of every kind. Since the "rich" would pay for that, too, many folks didn't care.
Then they began pushing legislation to "cap" carbon emissions -- a version of the bill already passed in the House. We're told that rich manufacturing firms and utilities will bear the increased costs (when, in fact, these costs will be passed on to us), but the concept is too abstract for many to follow and most folks don't care.
To be sure, Obama's strategy -- bait-and-switch-and-tax-the-rich -- has been politically fruitful. At least it was until he tried to ram his health care program through.
Unfortunately for Obama, most people -- 70 to 80 percent -- are happy with their health-care plans. They're not dumb enough to believe that massive government intervention could ever reduce costs and improve care.
Worse for Obama: It has dawned on folks who are not "rich" that, with our deficits running into the trillions, it's just a matter of time before their taxes go up to pay for it all. And, they wonder, wouldn't it be way cheaper to just give the uninsured dough to buy their own policies?
All of a sudden, people who are smart enough to enjoy government goodies so long as somebody else pays for them -- can you say "clunker bill"? -- are not dumb enough to have their own bit of wealth redistributed.
As clever a politician as Obama is, I'm surprised he missed that nuance. That's probably why he wanted to ram through health care "reform" before anybody had time to notice.
But it isn't too late for him to succeed. He just needs to hand out more goodies to buy more support.
Look, the premise of his political philosophy is fairness -- that government is the great leveler of inequality.
If one fellow works hard and attains a high income, it is only fair that Obama seizes more of that fellow's dough and spreads it around -- after the government takes a lion's share -- to those who don't earn as much.
But there is lots of unfairness in life.
Some people are smarter than others. Some are wittier. Some are better-looking. Some have better hair.
Is it fair that Johnny Depp has a full head of hair while my hairline is beginning to recede?
If Obama and the Democrats want my support of their monstrosity of a health care plan, all they need to do is pony up.
Draft another bill and borrow more dough to fund a national hair-transfer program. Isn't it Depp's patriotic duty to give up some of his hair so that I and others shall have more?
Obama and Congress can draft similar bills to help the dull become witty, the dumb become smart, the ugly become beautiful.
Sure, French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville warned long ago that "once Americans discover they can vote themselves money from the public till, the experiment will be over."
Well, Americans discovered long ago they can vote themselves money.
So, where is my hair?
- Tom Purcell is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and is nationally syndicated by Cagle Cartoons (Purcell@caglecartoons.com).