It's hard to overstate the expansion Obama proposes. Leave aside the supposedly temporary spending binge that constitutes his stimulus package. Under his budget blueprint, total spending would soar by roughly 75 percent above what it was last year.
Of whom else could that be said? Do you expect to be spending 75 percent more 10 years from now? Does your employer?
This increase may not sound like much, but it is. Before the current recession began, reports budget analyst Brian Riedl of the conservative Heritage Foundation, government spending amounted to about $24,000 per household. Under Obama's plan, it would exceed $32,000 per household (in inflation-adjusted dollars). Someone will have to pay for every cent of that spending, and it won't be just the rich.
Obama's Charitable Taking
When tax increases are "savings," reach for your wallet.
But it turns out that tax increases account for half of those "savings." From Obama's perspective, it seems, letting people keep their own money qualifies as a "wasteful and ineffective program." That makes sense if you believe all resources are the government's to distribute as it sees fit, which is the premise underlying the multitrillion-dollar spending binge that Obama calls "A New Era of Responsibility."
Under the Bush administration, Obama said, "a surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy." Whatever you think about the wisdom of Bush's tax cuts, they amounted to taking less from people, not giving more to them. Obama makes it sound as if there is no meaningful difference between robbing Peter to pay Paul (which is what he has in mind when he talks about "rebalancing the tax code") and leaving Peter alone (or, more accurately, robbing him less thoroughly)—except that the latter option is, in Obama's view, morally inferior.
In response to nonprofit organizations worried that limiting the deduction for charitable contributions will reduce donations, The Washington Times reports, Orszag "said Mr. Obama took care of that by giving charities government money to make up part of the difference." Orszag noted that "in the recovery act, there's $100 million to support nonprofits and charities." In essence, then, Obama plans to take money people otherwise would have given to the charities of their choice and give it to the charities of his choice.
Editorial: Cap-and-trade plan will sink Michigan
The nation's gross domestic product contracted at an annualized rate of 3.8 percent in last year's fourth quarter -- the worst economic record in nearly three decades. Is this really a good time to be talking about a carbon tax? How will such talk impact investment decisions?
Obama promises to use some of the revenues for tax relief for certain workers and some of the rest for subsidies for alternative energy. But that won't make up for the damage this huge new tax will do to the economy, especially in Michigan.
A similar program in Europe hasn't worked. European automakers complained about carbon dioxide limits the European Union proposed in 2007 as damaging to the economy.
The Obama cap-and-trade program will place even more of the economy under the control of the federal government. The only upside is that the negative impact it will have on economic growth and job creation will take care of the carbon emissions problem, for sure.
An Assault on Authentic Compassion
A study released Friday by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University shows that if the provision had been in place in 2006, charities would have lost almost $4 billion in donations in the intervening period. With the incomes of the so-called wealthy dropping, at the same time that their taxes are going up, it’s hard to see how limiting the deduction will not have a significant impact on charitable giving. The dollars taken away from private donations and directed into government coffers are not going to be magically replaced.
The Obama administration’s unprecedented intrusion into the private sector betrays its underlying philosophy. In his speech before a joint session of Congress last week, the president declared that he doesn’t believe in bigger government. Oh yes he does, in ways we have never quite seen before.
With this proposal, President Obama is saying as directly as it can be said that the federal government is better able than private citizens and the charities they support to decide how these donation dollars are best distributed. Conservatives, by contrast, believe in the principle of subsidiarity — which in this instance means that charity is best performed at the most local and immediate level possible, and by “mediating” institutions rather than large, distant, and bureaucratic ones. This is not an abstract doctrine; it is based on the accumulated wisdom of the ages.
A Moderate Manifesto
Those of us who consider ourselves moderates — moderate-conservative, in my case — are forced to confront the reality that Barack Obama is not who we thought he was. His words are responsible; his character is inspiring. But his actions betray a transformational liberalism that should put every centrist on notice. As Clive Crook, an Obama admirer, wrote in The Financial Times, the Obama budget “contains no trace of compromise. It makes no gesture, however small, however costless to its larger agenda, of a bipartisan approach to the great questions it addresses. It is a liberal’s dream of a new New Deal.”Sphere: Related Content