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Jewish World Review
Feb. 27, 2009
/ 3 Adar 5769
Obama's Hubris Is Showing
Hubris is the word that comes to mind as I listen to President Obama lay
out his plan to rescue the economy, create 4 million jobs, halve the
deficit in four years, and give quality health care to every American.
The man has big ambitions and an even bigger ego. It has been one of the
most troubling aspects of his character as it has emerged on the
national scene in the last two years. He seems, almost literally, to
believe he walks on water. No one no matter how talented could
accomplish a fraction of what Obama has planned in a good economy, much
less the weakened one we have right now. Worse, he thinks he can do this
simply by taxing the rich, a fantasy only someone who knows nothing
about human behavior, much less the U.S. tax system, could possibly
This is what the president has planned in the health care arena: $634
billion as a down payment on a new system that would provide insurance
to those uninsured Americans, about 47 million people at last count.
Sounds great except when you consider who is going to pay for it.
About half the money, the White House claims, will come from tax
increases on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, those earning
$250,000 a year or more, and savings from already existing health
programs. But the math doesn't add up. There simply aren't enough rich
people to pay for the Democrats' plans, even if the president could
figure out a scheme to confiscate every penny the rich now earn.
As the Wall Street Journal editors pointed out Feb. 26, 2009, the
roughly 3.8 million income tax filers who had more than $200,000 in
adjusted gross income (the IRS doesn't break it down at the $250,000
level) paid $522 billion in income taxes, about 62 percent of all taxes
paid in 2006. And if the taxman simply took every dime earned by those
in the very top group $500,000 and above it would pay for about
one year's worth of free health insurance for the uninsured.
But there'd be no rich people left for a second or third or fourth year
of such a scheme. We've seen this kind of plan before, in Stalin's
Russia and Mao's China free health care, yes, but of universally
lousy quality and living standards for everyone that would make the
poorest Americans look rich by comparison.
I'm not suggesting President Obama is a communist, but he is a utopian
and that's the danger. He wants to create a perfect society in which
the state takes care of everyone in need. It sounds wonderful but the
road to economic ruin and loss of liberty is paved by well-meaning men
with good intentions.
The rich as liberals like to call them are the people in this
society who earn enough to invest and create jobs so that all the rest
of us can live decently. A couple earning $50,000 a year with two kids
doesn't have money left over after paying the bills to invest in the
stock market or even hire one part-time worker at minimum wage.
Small and medium-size businesses create most of the jobs in our economy,
and the people who start and run those businesses are the very taxpayers
Obama is targeting. He says he's going to cut the deductions these
people take on their tax returns by about 20 percent which means
they'll have less to pay their employees and less incentive to hire new
And the worst part of Obama's plan is that it will actually increase the
deficit, not halve it as he promises. When individuals have
disincentives to earn more money because Uncle Sam will take more of
every extra penny they earn, they do the natural thing: They cut back on
work. And when they earn less, they pay less in taxes. Obama's plan will
mean a rush to the bottom where government incentives give the
biggest rewards to those who produce the least. Pretty soon there won't
be anyone to foot the bill.
Maybe if President Obama had spent time in the real economy, not simply
as the recipient of government or nonprofit paychecks his whole life,
he'd be a little less confident in his utopian plans.
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JWR contributor Linda Chavez is President of the Center for Equal Opportunity. Her latest book is "Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)
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