Dec 27, 2012
In The National Review Online, Victor Davis Hanson writes The Anecdotal President, 12/26/12.
Obama’s current trajectory is not sustainable, and yet the president has not proposed spending cuts that would reduce the annual deficits in any meaningful way. Like Louis XIV, the Sun King, he knows that his spending is bankrupting his country and, if unchecked, will destroy generations to follow — and yet he knows even more strongly that he cannot quit. Instead, he fixates on upping the top rates on the 2 percent who currently pay over 40 percent of all federal income-tax revenues; his proposed hikes, however, would add only $80 or $90 billion in additional revenue, or about 8 percent of the aggregate borrowing each year. Additional income might derive from suggested changes in the nature of deductions, and from raises in capital-gains and inheritance taxes, but would supply only a fraction of what is needed to balance the budget.
The president, however, knows that his vast increases in federal spending, which have helped create loyal constituents, at some point must come to an end. (No doubt, Barack Obama will be as critical of “unpatriotic” deficit spending after he leaves office as he was before he entered it.) There simply are not enough “millionaires and billionaires,” “fat-cat bankers,, “corporate-jet owners,” and people who did not know when to quit profiting, or at what point they had made enough money, or that they did not build their own businesses. What then is the point about the obsession with earners in the top brackets –given that more taxes on them will do nothing to stop the fantastic rate of spending and very little to raise enough general revenue to service it? Answer: Obama’s attack on the upper brackets is a resonant talking point, but otherwise a mere political anecdote that has nothing to do with good governance. Raising taxes across the board or vastly cutting spending or both would start to solve the problem, and so, as real options, must go unmentioned.
Underlying his obsession with fairness is blindness to both the sources of wealth and the benefits to the non wealthy. Media noise about the fiscal cliff obsesses on taxing the wealthy more and somewhat cutting expenses , but almost never mentions the need for more economic growth. The cumulative impact of the legislation, regulation AND the threats of higher taxes is to bring economic growth to a halt. The focus should not be how much of the wealthy’s income or assets the ruling class is justified expropriating to pay for the reckless spending. The focus should be where will the wealth do our country the most good; in the hands of those who create it and multiply it or in the hands of bureaucrats and officials with power but without the knowledge to manage it. Should this wealth be used to create jobs for the productive middle class or be distributed to political cronies and the least productive citizens?