It was Barack Obama’s worst debate performance. At a key moment in the exchange, and with his guard down, Obama was challenged to explain his fiscal policy proposals. Obama’s opponent, plain-spoken and sincere, confronted the Democratic nominee for proposing tax policies that would shatter the American dream for millions of middle class families.
No, I’m not talking about Wednesday night’s presidential debate, in which John McCain’s best debate performance yet put Obama on his heels. I’m talking about Obama’s impromptu debate with Joe Wurzelbacher earlier in the week. In his short exchange with “Joe the plumber,” Obama revealed his disturbing socialist tax proposals, which would have America abandon free market capitalism.
At a campaign stop in Toledo, Ohio, Wurzelbacher approached Obama and asked, “Do you believe in the American dream? I’m being taxed more and more for fulfilling the American dream.” Obama responded, “It’s not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody that is behind you, that they have a chance for success too. I think that when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”
Obama’s off-the-cuff comments about spreading the wealth around belie the things he says when he’s reading from a script, such as, “The market is the best mechanism ever invented for efficiently allocating resources to maximize production.” But it is when he is unscripted that Obama often reveals his true instincts and fundamental beliefs about an issue. Speaking extemporaneously, Obama will say things like he doesn’t want his daughters “punished with a baby” or that bitter Midwesterners cling to guns, God and ethnic grudges “as a way to explain their frustrations.”
“Spreading the wealth” and mandating equality of results is socialism. Government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. What government should do is create an environment where there is equal opportunity for everyone to succeed on their own merits and ability.
Karl Marx said, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” But the “workers’ paradise” Marx dreamed of was tried in the Soviet Union with its mandated results and planned economies. The Soviet Union no longer exists. The idea was a disaster.
Obama’s socialist tax proposals help explain some of his socialist connections, including being backed for Illinois Senate in 1996 by the Chicago branch of the Democratic Socialists of America. And they help explain why Communist Cuban dictator Fidel Castro has had such nice things to say about him. Castro has called Obama “progressive” and praised his “great intelligence,” and “debating skills.” Castro also praised Obama’s “work ethic,” which is ironic given that the Castro-like socialist policies of Obama would create a disincentive to work for many Americans.
In an Obama administration, federal income taxes would be raised on families and small businesses (like Joe’s) making $250,000 or more a year. But he has already twice voted to authorize tax increases on families earning as little as $40,000.
He would also raise corporate and estate taxes as well as impose a windfall profits tax on oil companies. Obama has also implausibly suggested that he will give “tax cuts” to millions of Americans who do not pay income taxes.
According to the Tax Foundation, under current law, there will be “47 million tax returns with zero-income tax liability in 2009… That’s one-third of all tax returns and those 47 million tax returns represent 96 million individuals." The Heritage Foundation estimates that “by 2011, under the Obama plan, an additional 10 million filers would pay zero taxes while cashing checks from the IRS.” And the Tax Policy Center found that the government payments for such “refundable tax credits” will balloon to more than $1 trillion in ten years. By any rational definition, that’s not a tax cut — it’s welfare!
Obama constantly talks of tax policy in terms of “fairness” regardless of whether or not it actually works. Consider this exchange with ABC’s Charlie Gibson during the April 16th Democratic primary debate on the subject of raising capital gains taxes:
GIBSON: All right. You have, however, said you would favor an increase in the capital gains tax. As a matter of fact, you said on CNBC, and I quote, “I certainly would not go above what existed under Bill Clinton,” which was 28 percent. It’s now 15 percent. That’s almost a doubling, if you went to 28 percent. …
GIBSON: And in each instance, when the rate dropped, revenues from the tax increased; the government took in more money. And in the 1980s, when the tax was increased to 28 percent, the revenues went down. So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?
OBAMA: Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.
So, whether or not the policy is sound doesn’t matter. What matters is Barack Obama’s sense of “fairness.” Government will decide what’s “fair,” government will decide how much of your hard-earned income you get to keep, government will determine what your “needs” are. Joe Wurzelbacher got it exactly right — Obama’s tax policies would punish success.
Wednesday night’s debate contained other important moments. Following more attempts by Obama to hang President Bush’s economic policies on McCain, the Republican nominee responded forcefully, saying, “I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against Bush, you should’ve run four years ago.”
But Joe Wurzelbacher was the star this week. Joe became the quintessential Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, exposing the greed and corruption of the federal government. By constantly referring to Joe the plumber, Sen. McCain showed how much he believes in the power of entrepreneurship and revealed that Obama’s government-based solutions are at odds with the best interests of millions of hard-working American small business owners.