This first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, February 2, 2015:
Taking a page not only out of the Super Bowl on Sunday, but also out of the statistical study proving that offense is more effective in winning than defense, Obama is offering a grievously offensive and logically indefensible budget for 2016 today (Monday, 2/2/15). His proposal is morally offensive in that he proposes to take money earned by some and give it to others. It is logically flawed in that it will increase deficits each year for the next ten years, adding yet another $6 trillion to the $18 trillion already extant (up from the $10 trillion when he took office in 2008). It will limit job growth, stifle innovation, keep tax lawyers and accountants busy into eternity, and do nothing for his favorite target: the beleaguered middle class.
None of that matters. It's all for show and to keep the Republicans on the defensive by couching his proposal in terms that only progressives could love: oppose my budget and we'll accuse you of favoring the rich, the trust fund babies, and the corporations hiding billions overseas from the IRS.
This is what he said on his radio broadcast on Saturday, as a teaser for his full Monte on Monday:
We'll help working families' paychecks go farther by treating things like paid leave and child care like the economic priorities that they are. We'll offer Americans of every age the chance to upgrade their skills so they can earn higher wages, with plans like making two years of community college free for every responsible student.
And we'll keep building the world's most attractive economy for high-wage jobs, with new investments in research, infrastructure, manufacturing, and expanded access to faster internet and new markets….
[Besides,] we've cut our deficits by two-thirds….
There are enough half-truths, misstatements, and just plain lies in those three paragraphs to keep commentators busy for a month. First, “paid leave” and “child care” must be funded somehow. Since the government doesn't have any money of its own except what it has extracted from those who have earned it, this is pure and simple theft. Second, who is to determine what skills need to be upgraded, for what positions, in what industries, to be hired by what companies? All these are decisions, by their very nature, impossible for government to make. Only the free market, when left alone, can even begin to provide such answers.
And “free” tuition at community colleges? What courses, what students, what jobs? And if two years' free tuition is so great, why not three, or four? If it works for community colleges, why not other schools and colleges and universities? If for bachelor's degrees, why not master's degrees as well?
And just how will government guarantee a “faster internet”? Who will determine where best to “invest” those stolen dollars? Whose research efforts will be expanded and which ones ignored? Which infrastructure projects will be funded first? Who will decide?
The questions go on.
It doesn't matter. His proposal to take one-seventh of those funds belonging to American companies stashed abroad to avoid the highest corporate tax rate in the world would total nearly half a trillion dollars. One is bound to do some good, somehow, somewhere, with that kind of money, even if most of it is wasted.
He wants to raise the capital gains tax, again. He's already raised it from 15 percent to 23.8 percent and now wants to raise it further to 28 percent. And he wants to close the “trust fund loophole” that allows beneficiaries to receive their inheritances without any capital gains tax. This has been in the law for so long no one can quite remember why, except that that remaining capital is all that's left after years of paying income tax on the earnings that preceded it.
Of course, as the Wall Street Journal proved (and the Washington Post reluctantly admitted), those freshly plucked funds won't make it to the middle class after all: they will, in fact, suffer a tax increase!
What are the Republicans proposing in response, or even as an alternative to this latest bit of redistributionist/progressive propaganda? Nothing but words. Here's Rep. Paul Ryan's wimpy wussy response:
We're six years into the Obama economic policies, and he's proposing more of the same: more tax increases that kill investment and jobs … policies which are hardly aspirational.
Ryan has all but ceded victory to Obama:
It's hard to imagine the president … going to work with Congress on entitlement reform. He's been stifling it all along.
I see that as an issue that's going to require a new president.
Translation: we Republicans have no offense, no alternatives, no response except to cave in, give up, and wait for 2017 when, presumably, a more intelligent, less radical, more moderate president can be depended upon to lead the country back to sanity.
Republicans are already trying to figure out how to cede ground to Obama without giving up altogether. In three weeks, the funding for the Department of Homeland Security will end (part of the deal the last Lame Duck Congress came up with to placate Obama). At present, there are hopes that in exchange for giving DHS even more money – for “new” and “expanded” programs to surveil the American people – the Republicans might get some spending cuts. No one is asking how that worked out the last time around.
And then there's the unlimited credit card the government has been using ever since the debt ceiling debate ended in Obama's favor. The card is scheduled to be pulled in March, and a new Papier Mâché debt ceiling to be enacted, also in exchange for some modest, as yet unnamed spending cuts.
Nothing is being planned by the Republicans to address the runaway entitlements that have already bankrupted the country, a fact noted by nearly everyone except bond traders making markets in US treasuries. Nothing substantial is being planned to get rid of Obamacare's socialized medicine. Instead there is “talk” about doing something about America's lack of an energy policy (which, according to the folks in North Dakota and Texas and elsewhere is working just fine, thank you), and the much-needed but always ultimately deferred tax reform that would make America competitive once again in world markets.
Stephen Dubner is right: nothing succeeds like a good offense, even an offense designed by totalitarians with no regard for logic, common sense, history, or morality. It has worked, and is likely to continue to work, simply because the Republican defensive unit has been both unwilling and unable to stop the Obama juggernaut.
NFL.com: More myth than reality?
Washington Times: Obama: ‘We can afford' $74B spending increase
The Hill: Budget war looms for Obama, GOP
Wall Street Journal: Obama Budget: Fund Infrastructure With Tax on Firms' Foreign Earnings
Wall Street Journal: Obama Budget Proposes 7% More in Spending Above Sequestration Caps
The New York Times: Obama Budget to Seek to Stabilize Deficit and Address Income Inequality
Washington Post: Obama's plan doesn't actually help the average middle-class taxpayer