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by Victor Davis Hanson
We are still borrowing more than
Obama would agree. He once alleged that George W. Bush's much smaller deficits were "irresponsible" and "unpatriotic." Obama himself vowed to cut the budget deficit in half by the end his first term. Instead, Obama's annual deficits have never gone below
Three ways to establish a long-term trajectory toward a balanced budget were under discussion. One was to adopt the proposals of the nonpartisan
Another way would have been to adopt the Bill Clinton-Newt Gingrich compromise formula of the 1990s that balanced the budget through a series of across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts. But while the administration talked grandly of a return to higher "Clinton-era tax rates," it never mentioned the necessary second half of the old equation -- "Clinton-era spending cuts." That balanced solution is dead, too.
Finally, we might have just enacted the income-tax rates of the Clinton era now and work on the spending cuts later. But the administration did not wish to take that third approach either. Instead, it prefers returning to Clinton-era rates only for those who make more than
The problem is that such a soak-the-rich move would only give the treasury about
Spending is the real problem but goes largely unaddressed. Obama's first-term borrowing of
Now the president wants another
"Pay your fair share" was a winning Obama campaign theme -- given that nearly half of all Americans do not pay any federal income tax and receive some sort of federal or state entitlement. Yet if the targeted 5 percent of American taxpayers already pays almost 60 percent of all federal income tax revenues, what would the president consider their proper "fair share" -- 70 percent, 80 percent, 90 percent or 100 percent?
We are now entering a rare, revolutionary period in American history. The present administration is not just re-examining the traditional physics of taxing and spending, but the very basis by which Americans are compensated in the workplace.
For Obama, it is inherently unfair that a few -- a surgeon, a small-business woman, an investor or a lotto winner -- should make so much. Thus it is the government's obligation, along with state and local governments, to take much of it away from the suspect few and redistribute it to far more deserving others.
All the old criteria that decide in a free-market economy how much we are able to make -- education levels, hard work, personal responsibility, particular tastes and values, skill sets, self-discipline, or even sheer luck, accidents, relative health or inheritance -- now matter far less.
Instead, Obama's all-knowing, all-powerful federal government, through higher taxes, more spending and greater deficits, will set right what the unfair marketplace has so skewed. At last, we learn what Obama really meant when, in unguarded moments, he sermonized about "redistributive change," the need to "spread the wealth," knowing the proper time not to profit, and at some point making too much money.
Do we need any longer to heed the ancient advice -- scrimp to leave something behind for your kids; try to get a promotion; make sure your savings account is larger than what you owe -- if some inequality results?
There is now only one commandment in the new Kingdom of Fairness: Make less than
That is all ye need to know.
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