Thursday, September 20, 2012

Redistribution

What a coup for the Romney campaign! They're not worried that somebody taped Romney commenting that nearly half of the American public are a bunch of freeloaders who will never support him because they just want to suck more government services away from the productive classes. They have a devastating comeback: a fourteen year old video of then state legislator Barack Obama speaking at a conference, in which Obama states that he actually believes in redistribution "at least at a certain level, to make sure that everybody's got a shot." You've got a tape? Well, we've got a tape too. So take that!

Romney's people can even say that the Obama tape is more devastating, because Obama actually utters the word "redistribution," on it. And he actually supports redistribution. Of course, Obama was speaking in the context of a discussion about more efficient delivery of government services, and also had some critical words for some state agencies. But still, you couldn't ask for a clearer admission of the president's socialist intentions that that, right?

The only trouble is that Romney believes in redistribution too. Romney even bragged yesterday about how his own father was on welfare for awhile.
 I mentioned my dad, my dad was born in Mexico of Americans parents living there. At age 5 or 6 there was revolution,” Romney said. “They came back to the United States, and my dad had to get help, financial help, the government helped his family be able to get on their feet again. By the way, that’s the way America works, we have great hearts, we care for people who have needs. We help get them back. We help lift them up but then they go back to their permanent lifestyle. . . . We get them on their feet, and they build a brighter future,
If there is a significant difference between the policies represented by that quote and those espoused by Barack Obama in the 1998 videotape, it escapes me. Both are advocating the kind of redistribution that provides a safety net for people in need, because "we care for people who have needs."

And when Mitt Romney isn't just blatantly contradicting himself by advocating the kinds of policies that he attacks the president for advocating--when Romney is more closely following the GOP script--then he believes in another kind of redistribution, the kind that balances new tax cuts for the rich, with the elimination of deductions and benefits for the poor and middle class. It has been estimated that Romney's tax plan would cost the average American family about $2000 per year in order to let the wealthiest Americans keep even more money. That is redistribution in reverse.

I can't remember a presidential election campaign that was actually and openly about issues as fundamental and basic as those on the table this year. One candidate openly declares that he wants to take a little more from the wealthy to help the middle class (not take as much as we asked from the wealthy during the administrations of those well-known socialists like Eisenhower, Nixon or Reagan, mind you, but at least enough to bring the top tax rate back up to what it was during the Clinton years). In the opposite corner, we have a candidate who brazenly advocates making the rich even richer, even if we have to cut benefits and deductions for the poor and middle class to do it. What should be clear, however, is that both candidates are in favor of redistribution. Anytime the government does anything for anybody, it is engaged in a sort of redistribution. The only difference is in the direction of the redistribution being proposed by each side.

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