Punishing the Wealthy in Obama's World

The true reason the Left wants to eat the rich.

President Obama’s recent deficit speech defied logic, tortured statistics, and targeted political enemies.  It also did Americans a service by revealing the underlying animus the President has for those who achieve monetary success in America.

Whenever Obama pre-emptively and strenuously denies that he thinks something, he almost invariably thinks it.  So, for example, when he told Americans last week that he doesn’t want to tax the rich “because we begrudge those who’ve done well – we rightly celebrate their success,” but because we need to “afford” programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, you can bet he means precisely the opposite – he doesn’t care a whit about paying for these programs, he cares about punishing the wealthy.

President Obama’s own rhetoric betrays him on this issue – hence his harping on the “fairness” of tax rates rather than the benefits of higher tax receipts.  Tax receipts pay for programs; tax rates do not.  Tax receipts fund Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security; tax rates do not.  And yet Obama focuses incessantly on tax rates, even to the exclusion of tax receipts.  In 2008, Obama was explicitly asked about raising the capital gains tax rate if it lowered tax receipts.  He did not challenge the premise that higher tax rates could lower tax receipts.  Instead, he said he would raise tax rates even if it lowered tax receipts. Obama’s answer demonstrated his hatred for those who earn using the hackneyed old “fairness” chestnut: “What I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.”

Obama is hardly the only liberal who suggests that tax rates are more important than tax receipts as a matter of principle.  On Sunday, failed 1984 Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale stated that tax rates are a moral issue.  “Taxes reveal who we are as a people and what we value,” Mondale wrote in The Washington Post.  “The public’s support is greatest for raising taxes on the affluent …”  Once again, Mondale cites “fairness” as a rationale for “eliminat[ing] Bush’s tax cuts for the rich.”  “Where is the decency in cutting taxes for those making tens of millions while middle America struggles?” Mondale asks.  “This is a fight over fairness that Americans can understand.”  Mondale’s mistaken belief that raising taxes will “increase revenue” is an ancillary point to him – it’s the basic virtue of eating the rich that mandates it.

Michael Moore thinks the same way.  In a typical fire-breathing speech from the rotund rabble-rouser, he told a crowd of Wisconsin union members that America is “awash in wealth and cash.  It’s just that it’s not in your hands.  It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and portfolios of the uber-rich.”  To Moore, one of America’s wealthiest people, the rich must be taxed because they are morally blameworthy, not because we need their money to pay for our programs.

As Bill Whittle puts it in this brilliant video for Declaration Entertainment, liberals want to eat the rich.  They are not interested in boosting the economy, maintaining social programs, or making our unfettered spending sustainable.  We could confiscate all of the profit made by the Fortune 500 companies, Super Bowl ad revenue, all the salaries of the major sports, all the money made by any individual above $250,000 annually, the entire net worth of every billionaire in the country … and not even come close to making up the annual deficit for 2011.  And yet liberals continue to harp on the moral praiseworthiness of doing just that.

According to President Obama, we would not be a great country without confiscating the wealth of earners and redistributing it to those who refuse to pay for their health care and retirement.  The better angels of our nature mandate a “communal” view of the world, in which we force some to pay for others.  Naturally, Mondale and Moore feel the same way.

Of course, there is nothing more immoral than such class warfare.  Capitalism is based on the principle of mutual benefit – nobody can coerce anyone to buy a product or provide a service.  Communism is based on the principle of pure selfishness – I deserve your cash because I exist.  Capitalism is you allowing a plumber into your house to fix your pipes, and then handing him a check for a job well done.  Communism is a plumber breaking into your house, leaving the pipes leaky, and forging a check from your account.  Liberals think that capitalism is based on greed, but capitalism cannot serve greedy without altruistic output.  Communism is based on both greed and jealousy, without even a hint of altruism.

At root, the difference between President Obama and conservative Americans is a question of values, not of means.  Obama and his cadre could not care less about the future of Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid – those are means toward redistribution, not ends in and of themselves.  All that matters is soaking those who earn for purposes of “fairness.”  And simply put, that’s not only unfair, it’s morally reprehensible.

Ben Shapiro is an attorney and writer and a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, and author of the upcoming book “Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How The Left Took Over Your TV” from Broadside Books, an imprint of HarperCollins.