Let’s be honest: There is no discernible difference between those who insist that Barack Obama is disqualified by birth from serving as president and those who claim that he is a Marxist or socialist. Both are equally absurd.
Neither group has any factual ground on which to base its inane charges; in their rhetoric, both groups tell us far more about their own internal psychology than they do about the president.
Consider, for example, this portion of last night’s State of the Union address from our “Marxist in Chief”:
First, if you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, you shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it. That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies like Master Lock that decide to bring jobs home.
Second, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas. From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax. And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay here and hire here in America.
Third, if you’re an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut. If you’re a high-tech manufacturer, we should double the tax deduction you get for making your products here. And if you want to relocate in a community that was hit hard when a factory left town, you should get help financing a new plant, equipment, or training for new workers.
There were other steps announced as well: “a Trade Enforcement Unit that will be charged with investigating unfair trading practices in countries like China;” a “Financial Crimes Unit” of highly trained investigators to crack down on large-scale fraud; a new education initiative aimed at improving work skills among 2 million Americans; a policy that will reduce federal funding to colleges that allow tuition to rise too quickly, putting them out of reach for many in the middle class.
And then of course there’s this:
“As I told the Speaker this summer, I’m prepared to make more reforms that rein in the long-term costs of Medicare and Medicaid, and strengthen Social Security, so long as those programs remain a guarantee of security for seniors.
But in return, we need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes.
Tax reform should follow the Buffett Rule. If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes. And my Republican friend Tom Coburn is right: Washington should stop subsidizing millionaires. In fact, if you’re earning a million dollars a year, you shouldn’t get special tax subsidies or deductions. On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year, like 98 percent of American families, your taxes shouldn’t go up. You’re the ones struggling with rising costs and stagnant wages. You’re the ones who need relief.
Now, you can call this class warfare all you want. But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense.
We don’t begrudge financial success in this country. We admire it. When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich. It’s because they understand that when I get a tax break I don’t need and the country can’t afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference — like a senior on a fixed income, or a student trying to get through school, or a family trying to make ends meet.
That’s not right. Americans know that’s not right. They know that this generation’s success is only possible because past generations felt a responsibility to each other, and to the future of their country, and they know our way of life will only endure if we feel that same sense of shared responsibility.”
That last point is critically important. Those who oppose the president’s tax-reform policies condemn them as divisive and complain that he is pitting Americans against each other. But those complaints are born of a philosophy that rejects the concept of shared responsibility in the first place. That philosophy envisions each of us as separate and isolated units, without obligation to each other or the greater good. It assumes that we are stronger when each of us is selfishly pursuing our own goals without concern for each other or future generations.
I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that this country would have achieved all that it has achieved to date had that philosophy been allowed to determine public policy. As Obama suggested last night, that’s not how we got to where we are; it is not how to get to where we need to be.
If that makes Obama a Marxist, well, then I’m a Marxist too.
– Jay Bookman