Obama can’t let go of his war on the “rich.” It was an integral part of his campaign, and an even more integral part of his presidency.
Obama’s obsession with playing class warfare politics is his undoing, not because it necessarily loses him support in isolation, but because it makes him seem petty and vindictive, and damages the economy.
When even Peter Orzag comes out in favor of an across the board extension of the Bush tax cuts for the next two years as key to our economic recovery hopes, one would think that Obama would reconsider.
But no, Obama digs in deeper, gripping the class warfare card like it were a life preserver. But it is not a life preserver, but rather, a political lead weight.
As reported by The New York Times:
President Obama on Wednesday will make clear that he opposes any compromise that would extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy beyond this year, officials said, adding a populist twist to an election-season economic package that is otherwise designed to entice support from big businesses and their Republican allies….
It is not clear that Mr. Obama can prevail given his own diminished popularity, the tepid economic recovery and the divisions within his party. But by proposing to extend the rates for the 98 percent of households with income below $250,000 for couples and $200,000 for individuals — and insisting that federal income tax rates in 2011 go back to their pre-2001 levels for income above those cutoffs — he intends to cast the issue as a choice between supporting the middle class or giving breaks to the wealthy.
While the White House is hedging on whether Obama will announce a line in the sand today, there is no doubt that raising taxes on the “rich” has been his defining theme. Obama’s speech earlier this week in which he attacked tax cuts “for millionaires and billionaires” was a signal that he was back in the campaign mode of attacking the wealthy. It has been months since Obama has been as animated in public as he was at that speech before the union leadership.
Those evil rich making 200-250k, they are the small business owners and professionals who hire people and spend money so that others can hire people. They do not vacation on the coast of Spain, but they do take trips to Vegas and Orlando. They don’t have multimillion dollar book deals lined up, but they buy plenty of books and others things that help stimulate the private economy. They don’t get special land deals to buy a mansion in the big city, but they do plenty of home improvements that put the bitter, clingy people to work.
When Obama attacks our neighbors, our doctors, our business people, he not only reveals his ideological stubbornness, he damages the economy he claims to want to help:
[T]he Top 5 percent in income earners — those households earning $210,000 or more — account for about one-third of consumer outlays, including spending on goods and services, interest payments on consumer debt and cash gifts, according to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by Moody’s Analytics.
There probably are better analogies, but when I think of Obama’s pathological obsession with the top 2% of the population, I think of someone in an ideological death grip. And he is dragging the rest of us down with him.