President Obama's latest divisive campaign speech in Osawatomie, Kansas last week has drawn some pointed critiques. The best of these were written by Charles Krauthammer, Mark Steyn and Rich Lowry. Links and a few excerpts follow.
Where to begin? A country spending twice as much per capita on education as it did in 1970 with zero effect on test scores is not underinvesting in education. It’s mis-investing. As for federally directed spending on innovation — like Solyndra? Ethanol? The preposterously subsidized, flammable Chevy Volt?
Our current economic distress is attributable to myriad causes: globalization, expensive high-tech medicine, a huge debt burden, a burst housing bubble largely driven by precisely the egalitarian impulse that Obama is promoting (government aggressively pushing “affordable housing” that turned out to be disastrously unaffordable), an aging population straining the social safety net. Yes, growing inequality is a problem throughout the Western world. But Obama’s pretense that it is the root cause of this sick economy is ridiculous...
...In Kansas, Obama lamented that millions “are now forced to take their children to food banks.” You have to admire the audacity. That’s the kind of damning observation the opposition brings up when you’ve been in office three years. Yet Obama summoned it to make the case for his reelection!...
...This is populism so crude that it channels not Teddy Roosevelt so much as Hugo Chávez. But with high unemployment, economic stagnation, and unprecedented deficits, what else can Obama say?
He can’t run on stewardship. He can’t run on policy. His signature initiatives — the stimulus, Obamacare, and the failed cap-and-trade — will go unmentioned in his campaign ads. Indeed, they will be the stuff of Republican ads.
What’s left? Class resentment. Got a better idea?
The president of the United States came to Osawatomie, Kan., last week to deliver a speech of such fascinating awfulness archeologists of the future sifting through the rubble of our civilization will surely doubt whether it could really have been delivered by the chief executive of the global superpower in the year 2011...
...His opponents, he told us, “want to return to the same practices that got us into this mess . . . . And their philosophy is simple: We are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules . . . . It doesn’t work. It has never worked.” He blamed our present fix on “this brand of ‘you’re on your own’ economics.”
This is a deliciously perverse analysis of the situation confronting America and a fin de civilisation West. In what area of life are Americans now “on their own”? By 2008, Fannie and Freddie had a piece of over half the mortgages in this country; the “subprime” mortgage was an invention of government. America’s collective trillion dollars of college debt has been ramped up by government distortion of the student-loan market. Likewise, health care, where Americans labor under the misapprehension that they have a “private” system rather than one whose inflationary pressures and byzantine bureaucracy are both driven largely by remorseless incremental government annexation. Americans are ever less “on their own” in housing, education, health, and most other areas of life — and the present moribund slough is the direct consequence.
The federal government already runs a sprawling, massively redistributionist system of taxes and benefits. The top 1 percent earns about 17 percent of all income and pays about 37 percent of all federal income taxes. By the reckoning of Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, the welfare system has paid out roughly $16 trillion since the beginning of the War on Poverty.
But President Obama implied that some people are poor because other people are rich, an assumption of class antagonism antithetical to the American idea and tenuously connected to the evidence. Consider a concrete example. The president’s former top budget official, Peter Orszag, departed the administration to work at Citigroup for $2 million to $3 million a year. Putting aside the seemliness and the merits of Orszag’s pay and that of his cohorts on Wall Street, how does his paycheck make it harder for anyone else to get ahead? Orszag’s income doesn’t increase out-of-wedlock childbearing, incarceration, or lack of work effort — all significant obstacles to advancement up the income scale.