Rehabilitating Class Warfare


It seems like only yesterday that President Obama was passionately denying that his re-election campaign was based on class warfare.  In fact, it was exactly one week ago, during the Rose Garden rollout of his $1.5 trillion package of tax increases. 

“I reject the idea that asking a hedge fund manager to pay the same tax rate as a plumber or a teacher is class warfare.  I think it’s just the right the thing to do,” Obama declared.  “This is not class warfare, it’s math.”  This was several days before people got their hands on his proposal, did the math, and discovered he was lying about the ratio of tax increases to spending cuts.  (He claimed $2 in spending cuts per $1 in new taxes, but the true math is $3 in new taxes for every $1 in spending cuts.)

That Rose Garden address was the last time I can recall the President making a blanket denial of engaging in class warfare tactics.  His new strategy, rolled out during his Ohio-Kentucky bridge photo op late last week, is to re-define class warfare as a “badge of honor”:

This is about priorities. This is about choices. If we want to pay for this jobs plan, and close this deficit, and invest in our future, the money has to come from somewhere. Would you rather keep tax loopholes for oil companies? Or do you want construction workers to have a job rebuilding our bridges? Would you rather keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires? Or do you want to put teachers back to work, and help small businesses, and cut taxes for middle-class families?

The Republicans in Congress call this class warfare. Well you know what? If asking a billionaire to pay the same tax rate as plumber or teacher makes me a warrior for the middle class, I’ll wear that charge as a badge of honor. Because the only class warfare I’ve seen is the battle that’s been waged against the middle class in this country for a decade.

Of course, the “choice” our doughty middle-class warrior doesn’t want to discuss at all is the choice to refuse participating in his schemes, or giving him any more money.  Re-read the first paragraph again.  When he talks about “choice,” he means entirely, and exclusively, the choices made by politicians.  Political control, along with the necessary coercion of the private sector, is not in question for Barack Obama.  The only question is whether the ruling class will choose to give tax loopholes to oil companies, or create jobs by building bridges.

Obama repeated the exact same talking point before the Congressional Black Caucus in the increasingly infamous “Jew janitor” speech.  In fact, he was in the midst of talking about his class warfare “badge of honor” when he said “Jew” instead of “janitor”:

… But you know the Republicans are already dusting off their old talking points. That’s class warfare, they say. In fact, in the next breath, they’ll complain that people living in poverty — people who suffered the most over the past decade — don’t pay enough in taxes. That’s bad crazy. (Laughter and applause.) When you start saying, at a time when the top one-tenth of 1 percent has seen their incomes go up four or five times over the last 20 years, and folks at the bottom have seen their incomes decline — and your response is that you want poor folks to pay more? Give me a break. If asking a billionaire to pay the same tax rate as a Jew… uh, as a janitor makes me a warrior for the working class, I wear that with a badge of honor. I have no problem with that. It’s about time.

This is a deliberate, amusingly bungled effort to de-fuse the class warfare talking point by someone who plans to offer a lot more class warfare in the months to come. 

The concept of applying Marxist class definitions to the free people of the United States, and attempting to pit them against each other for political gain, doesn’t become more palatable because the Marxist begins loudly proclaiming himself a champion of the middle class, instead of a warrior for the poor.  If the game is wrong, it doesn’t matter which team you’re playing for.

The Left is working to build a moral case for the growing indenture of the middle class, which they desperately wish to defeat by pushing them into permanent, generational dependency.  You middle-class types can’t survive without the lollipops Obama will purchase for you, once he finishes raiding the treasure vaults of the Evil Rich.  You might have been under the impression that local taxes funded things like schools and bridges, but no, those things are now matters for the central government to address.  They’re much less important than making half-billion-dollar loans to companies like Solyndra, mind you, so that stuff gets funded first, and then we’ll need higher taxes from the rich to build the schools and bridges. 

The Elizabeth Warren rant that went viral last week, as Obama was shifting into “badge of honor” mode, was intended to convince the middle class it is already hopelessly indentured to the State, and has been for a long time.  No one is “independent” – all prosperity flows from the State, and the State rightfully owns all things.  Your government dependency began at the moment of your birth, and you can never escape from it.

“Normally, you don’t raise taxes in a recession, which is why we haven’t,” the very same President said in August 2009.  Apparently the “recovery” has been going so well that it’s time for $1.5 trillion in new taxes!  When class war is all you’ve got left, it’s time to drop all pretense of faith in market economics, or the power of economic liberty.

An independent middle class is the mortal enemy of collectivists, because they benefit greatly from economic freedom, and have the votes to safeguard it… unless they can be convinced to trade freedom for protection against predatory fatcats.  Naked class warfare has a fairly good track record of producing useful political power in the United States, so there was no way Obama and the Democrats would be able to avoid using it.  They’ve obviously concluded they can’t get away with denying their urges any longer, and need to recast them as a civic virtue.