Rob Peter to Pay Paul: Bad Economics! Good Politics?

So the man who once promised he would bring us together has now kicked off his campaign for re-election determined to tear us apart.   Irony doesn’t begin to tell the story.

Barack Obama went to conservative Kansas “laying out a populist argument for his re-lection next year,” as the page one story in the New York Times described it.  Or to put it another way, President Obama went to Kansas laying out his campaign strategy which is simple and easy to understand:  He will do every thing he can to divide Americans into two camps — the greedy rich and everyone else.

And he will make clear every chance he gets that if we re-elect him he will do everything he can to take money from those who have it and distribute it to everyone else, especially the hard-pressed middle class which, coincidentally, takes in most of the folks who will choose the next president.

In Kansas he blamed “the breathtaking greed of a few” for the financial crisis and said, “This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and all those who are fighting to get into the middle class.” Republicans, he said, “want to go back to the same policies that stacked the deck against middle class Americans for way too many years.  And their philosophy is simple:  We are better off when everybody is left to find for themselves and play by there own rules.  I am here to say they are wrong.”

Never mind that Republicans also want the middle class to succeed.  They just don’t think that taxing the rich is going to help the middle class.  Mr. Obama’s plan may not be good economics, but it just might be good politics.  As I have mentioned in this space before, quoting George Bernard Shaw, “A government with the policy to rob Peter to pay Paul
 can be assured of the support of Paul.”

That’s what worries me.  I have no faith in Paul.  I think Paul is the real greedy SOB in this story, the one who has no problem taking money from rich people.  Why not, Paul figures.  They have it.  I need it.  And the president says it’s okay to feel this way.

So, unlike many of my conservative compadres, I think Mr. Obama’s class warfare strategy may succeed.  And let’s say it does.  Let’s say he wins re-election.  Then comes gridlock, which is fine with me.  It’s not likely that the president will have long enough coattails — if he has any at all — to change the political complexion of Congress.  So the president knows he’s not going to get his tax increase on the rich.  None of this is about actually doing that.  It’s all about politics.  The man who promised to usher in a new era in politics is playing the oldest political game in the books:  divide and conquer.

Taking money from the haves in order to buy allegiance from the have-nots wouldn’t do much to create growth in the economy, anyway.  Good chance, it would do just the opposite.   Raise the taxes on the wealthiest among us, the ones who create jobs, and they just might want to hang on to their money instead of spending in on salaries for new employees.

But going after rich people is in the DNA of liberal Democrats. It makes them feel good about themselves.  And remember, Franklin Roosevelt ran against “the plutocrats” in 1936 and despite a depression and high unemployment, he easily won re-election.

How does it end if Mr. Obama is re-elected?  What happens to our economy then?  Well let’s just say they tried this Peter/Paul thing already — in Europe.  How’s that working out over there?  Something for all the Pauls to think about before they vote next November.


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  • David Niles

    In this day of political correctness, how come it is okay to be against Romney because he is a Mormon?

  • William Custis Buffington

    WITH a FILLIBUSTER PROOF SENATE and a MAJORITY in the HOUSE OBAMA got everything he wanted in terms of legislation. He supersized his stimulus from the $130 billion he promised as candidate OBAMA to $787 billion as president. Harry Reid, Jared Bernstein, Larry Summers Chuck Schumer,David Axelrod and left leaning Nobel winning “Economist” Paul Krugman all said that this total wish list of a “stimulus package” would create between 3 and 4 million jobs. Obama also got his $700 billion stimulus and he got through sleazy backroom deals and the stretching of the rules his health care proposal. The real unemployment rate, given 2008 to 2011 shrinkage of the economy in America, it would be at 11 percent and not at 8.6 percent.
    Fabian Socialism, as in Europe today is a failure as well here in America and Obama knows this fact. His only way to win, and God only knows why he wants to, is to make the campaign about the Republican candidate and blame his failures on the Tea-Party. How wicked!!

  • Wil Burns

    Hey Bernie, What tax on the wealthy has Obama raised, since becoming president?

    • Brendan Horn

      Yes, Wil, perhaps Obama should receive a trophy for this and for all of the other things that he has not done. We can create a large list of the things he said he would do and has not done. People will be very impressed. Perhaps he can make a campaign video with this as the premise for reelecting the great Obama.

  • Kathie Ampela

    Class warfare is a dangerous game. Turning the electorate into an angry, mindless mob can backfire and have dire consequences. I am very disturbed by this, but not surprised. I really hope people are smart enough to see through this game, but I don’t know anymore.

    • Wil Burns

      With tax break after tax break showered on the wealthy these past 30 years (so the top 1% now receive 20% of all national income – they took home 10% of national income in 1980), did you conservative clowns ever scream class warfare?

      • Neal Angel

        And Reagan lowered the top rates by more than half in 1981, and the top income earners payed more in taxes! Total federal revenues increased, and the entire country enjoyed a decade of prosperity. Put away your Oedipus complex & try to see the bigger picture.

      • a troll

        And during the same 30 years, the top 1% went form paying about 20% of Federal taxes (when they earned 10% of the income) to 40% of Federal taxes. In fact, starting with Bush Sr., the bottom 50% started paying NEGATIVE Federal taxes, with the introduction of the EIC, which was followed by the Child Tax Credit and the Add’l Child Tax Credit.

        We should scrap the current tax code entirley and adopt a plan similar to Cain 9-9-9. Everyone pays the same rate, eliminate all loopholes, and add the national sales tax to pick up some taxation on the under-the-table money, whether it is illicitly obtained or just unreported self-employment, sales or tips. Only when we make the bottom 50% true stakeholders in the outcome of the tax-and-spend cycle will they begin to appreciate that THEIR money is being wasted and misused and begin to be more concerned about spending on those activities that society truly needs.

  • Gena Taylor

    Right on again. You can see it, I can see it, most people I know can see it, but then most of the people I know are conservatives. I have a few friends whose families have been on welfare for 2 or more generations, and they believe everything Obama has to say, plan to vote for him and expect to get way more out of the gov’t as a result. They do not seem to realize or care that the foodstamps, medicaide, housing, etc, that they receive come from taxes paid by people who actually work. They seem to think that Obama has a money tree (say the printing press at the mint?) where money comes from and that no one has to do without so that they can live quite well with none of them working. When I try to explain to them that the printing off all this unbacked money will lead to inflation, whereby any extra freebies Obama gives them will be worth less than what they have now, they just say I’m saying that because I watch Fox and Fox does’t like democrats and especially Obama. They, of course, if they watch the news at all, only watch MSNBC. Its insane.

  • EddieD_Boston

    In a nutshell, he’s going for the stupid and the clueless voters.

  • Brendan Horn

    Liberals love the phrase: “the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.” In their mind, the rich are becoming rich at the expense of the poor. This is the lie that the liberals love. Obama believes this lie and believes he is just the man to make things better for the poor folks. He has demonstrated that he has no clue how to make poor people less poor, so he is now focusing on making the rich people less rich. He thinks this will be achieving something positive. He is severely delusional. It is precisely the poor and the middle class who have suffered the most as a result of Obama’s failed policies. His horrific energy policies make energy more expensive. This hurts the poor and the middle class. I have not seen any evidence anywhere showing that Obama’s policies have helped the poor – except that they have increased the numbers of poor people. He has not helped the middle class – except to decrease their numbers by moving them into the poor category. He is like a person who damages everything he touches and does not understand why everyone else is causing so much harm to his surroundings. Obama is good at deceiving people in his speeches but I think, at some point, people will have to realize that Obama is more the problem than the solution.

  • Bill Hurdle

    Mr. Goldberg, I share your concern about the portion of the population that believes the Obama administration will redistribute wealth to their side of the ledger. They have no idea about the effect it will have on the economy and feel that it also provides justice for the more fortunate who gained their wealth through exploitation of everyone else. I can only hope that people who are in the middle that voted for Obama and do not stand to benefit from redistribution realize that this approach to “equalizing the playing field of results” is detrimental for prosperity and will vote against him.

  • The Obama Timeline author

    In other words, Obama is not going after the Ron Paul vote but the Paul vote.

  • Drew Page

    So why is bank robbery illegal? That’s where the money is. If you don’t have any, you should be able to walk into a bank and take as much as you want from those greedy pigs. Why is it ok for the government to do it when it’s not ok for anyone else to do it?

  • Florida Jim

    Here is an excellent video Obama should see that shows the folly of “taxing the rich”

  • Hoyt Clagwell

    Obama’s policies haven’t worked, can’t work and won’t work. If most Americans knew anything about economics, they would know that demonizing and taxing those that are the job creators does not produce jobs. They would also know that expecting the “rich” to fork over their money so that it may be given to the lower/middle class doesn’t work either. If most Americans knew anything about how capitalism drives prosperity, Obama wouldn’t get 10% of the vote against any GOP candidate. Alas, most Americans don’t know much about economics and how capitalism really works.

  • Will Swoboda

    Good morning Bernie,
    I hope the same thing happens to Obama that happened to Old Teddy, he lost. In 1910 the, corporate America was far different than today. There was far less regulation and control. I just believe that capitalism is the best way to positively help more people than socialism. In my life, I have traveled through communist and socialist countries. Capitalism, even with all of it’s flaws, is still the best economic system in the world and in history.
    Thanks, Will

  • Bruce A.

    Robbing Peter to pay Paul simply makes it less profitable for any taxpayer to work. Maybe we should all sign up for govt. benefits & see what else happens to the USA.

    • Drew Page

      That is exactly what Obama wants, everyone dependent on the government. That gives the government complete control over everyone. You want food, shelter, medical care? Get in line and do what you are told. Of course in order to provide for everyone’s needs, it will be necessary for the government to seize everyone’s money and property.

      Why would really wealthy people want socialism? Because under socialism the government controls the people. Who controls the government? The politicians. Who controls the politicians? The really wealthy.

  • rick geiger

    Well, it makes big difference if Obama wins or not. If he wins, the middle class with continue to get poorer and poorer and the rich will get richer and richer because that is what happens when the government and ultra wealthy partner up to supposedly help the poor and middle class. That means the actual lives of actual people will get worse and worse.

    Now, Bernie, since you very rich and don’t have to worry about money, this will not affect you negatively. But most people cannot be apathetic about the prospects for the well being of their families gets worse and more desperate

  • Joseph Maloney

    Will voters realize that there’s little to no differences with Progressives Gingrich, Romney, Obama, and Teddy Roosevelt. They’re all for bigger government, and have the same, safe talking points. Are the Tea Party’s 2010 Ideals of lower taxes and smaller government in the rear view mirror? Are we lured by another slick speaker? A flip flopper? The only candidates that fit the forgotten Tea Party Ideals are Michelle Bachmann, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and the exiting Herman Cain. Which the MSM has skillfully undermined, and the GOP establishment never protested the MSM’s scrutiny. Has the Tea Party lost it’s spirit for the easy road?

  • Ken Hansen

    “the breathtaking greed of a few”

    Which few? The few that invested too heavily in very (dare I say extremely) risky Credit Default Swap and collateralized home mortgages or the “few” that bought into the liberal vision that insufficient income and/or a poor credit history should never stand in the way of every American owning a home, and to make sure everyone acts on this “vision” the Gov’t will guarantee the worst mortgages?

    Which few?

    Without the chumming of the financial waters an over-active housing market created, mixed in with federal guarantees that all but eliminated any perceived risk in the mortgage industry the collapse might have been averted… But wait, can’t blame the so-called ‘middle class’ – their support next November is crucial to Obama’s re-election, no, better to jump on the coattails of #OWS and blame the 1%.

  • G. Daylan

    The people, often deceived by an illusive good, desire their own ruin, and, unless they are made sensible of the evil of the one and the benefit of the other course by someone in whom they have confidence, they will expose the republic to infinite peril and damage. And if it happens that the people have no confidence in any one, as sometimes will be the case when they have been deceived before by events or men, then it will inevitably lead to the ruin of the state. – Niccoló Machiavelli

  • Scott Schu

    Short and not so sweet:

    Bernie you get it, goes without saying.

    Will the Republican candidate make the same points that you do?

    I do not think so. My question is: Why not?

    2 possible reasons:
    1. Fear of the liberal media – Herman Cain
    2. They really believe in BIG GOV as the DEMS do

    I am afraid a real crisis is necessary to make real change. Unfortunately, Obama has already staked out that claim.

    Take Care and Live Well.

    • Ken Hansen

      Calling people greedy rarely wins a politician their support.

      • Dave O’Connor

        Right, Ken. It’s American masochism. It’s especially passion-raising when the taunter is a narcissist.

  • cmacrider

    As a Canadian, I haven’t the foggiest notion as to why you are allowing Obama to frame the election debate. You keep on writing about Obama’s rich vs. poor campaign when I am certain that once you get outside the beltway the only issue is jobs … jobs… jobs.

    Obama’s patent politically dithering on the keystone pipeline shows the absolute hollowness of his empathy for the middle class. Republicans/conservatives and libertarians should be talking about only one thing …. creating jobs in America. Any time, Obama brings up his class warfare he should be dismissed as out of touch with the American people who want one thing …. jobs. Any time Obama says he is trying to create jobs but the Republicans are obstructing him … mention the Keystone Pipeline. After all, that not only produces shovel ready jobs and a host of spin off work …. it has the potential to make America a net exporter of oil. Additionally, since both that pipeline company and the Alberta oil sands are extensively funded with American capital … it really isn’t even “foreign” oil.

    Its so obvious that Obama is trying to re frame the debate since he has produced no good for the American economy. Therefore it logically follows that the Republicans should re frame the debate on what is of interest to the average american …. jobs … jobs…. jobs.

    • Ken Hansen

      America is an importer of crude oil and an exporter of refined gasoline.

      As an American, I don’t understand why Canada foesn’t just build their own refinery for the oil – does it really take SO long that it makes more sense to create a 2,000 mile pipeline to exploit excess refinery capacity in the Gulf region?

      • cmacrider

        The economic facts are relatively straightforward. It costs about 10 billion to construct a new refinery whereas it takes 1/10th of that to convert an existing American refinery to handle the oil sands bitumen. Given that the profit margins at the refinery stage are small and depends on volumes … it makes economic sense to ship to the existing American refineries.

        If Canada were to build a new refinery (which may be in the offing) a vast majority of those funds would come from wall street. Then you would be complaining about American money being shipped to foreign countries.

        If you want the jobs …. tell obama to approve the pipeline which as our P.M says is a “no brainer.”

        • Wil Burns

          Build the pipeline in Canada to the Pacific coast. That oil is going to be exported to the rest of the world. Or construct a new refinery in Canada. The oil sands bitumen dilemma is your problem, not ours!

    • Neal Angel

      You must understand cmac, our President is not so much interested in creating jobs as he is in creating government jobs. To his way of thinking, the pipeline project doesn’t cut the cheese.

  • Dreamer

    For the last time, Obama is going to lose. He would have looked stronger had he embraced OWS. The man is clearly not interested in mediating, only lecturing. Instead of “Yes We Can” we the people should have been saying “No We Won’t”. But what if the right wins the White House and the Senate, then what? Our people have already reniged on cutting the budget. If they deregulate again we’ll be right back where we started. The Commerce Club will want more cheap labor from South America. Romney, as Huntsman said, is in the hip-pocket of Wall Street. So is Newt. I think they all are, certainly Trump is trying to deflect attention away from his lying, cheating buddies there and place all the blame on China and OPEC. Before you think we’re turning into Europe, what would happen to Europe if they fail financially and politically – who would make a move? Russia. We would be unable to stop them. That is our greatest threat we could face if Europe fails. What we should do first is win the war in the middle east, and grow Israel. That’s the price the middle east should pay to have peace. Redraw the map, after we win. Less than 10 miles by 80 miles can not be defended. What about the Palestinians? They’d have to go to Jordan, Saudi Arabia or Egypt – they’re the ones who have failed to make peace. Helen Thomas wants to send the Jews to Germany and Russia. This Christmas let’s forget about our little tax cut that will further destroy social security, which is surely unconstitional.

    Mr. Gingrich, you don’t have a clue. Big ideas. Making school children work at school. You will not win the nomination. We’d just be replacing one professor with another. You admitted you voted to create the Department of Education. You stole from the states. Rick Perry realizes it’s all about preseving American Strength, pulling the plow over Washington D.C. as we know it, and bringing federal spending down to 18% with the fair 20% flat tax. I hope he would select Bachmann for the number two position. Arpaio at DHS. These are law and order Republicans. These are our strongest conservative candidates aside from Santorum. There is some place for Huntsman, probably SOS, as he already has diplomatic experience. Romney, well, he’s now looking like what I said before – one of the most failed politicians in our history. Dismantle the 18th Century Invention – Wall Street – close the border,and yes deal with China, create fair trade, let Perry and Bachmann slash spending and balance the budget, and Paul will be just fine.

  • Terry Walbert

    Obama has already started taking money from
    those who have it — raising money for his relection campaign.

    Although I wouldn’t mind seeing Obama and the Democrats implode in a second term, I don’t want the country to go through it. But if we relect him, we deserve him and what he will bring.

  • T Ivison

    If Obama is re-elected, he will have no incentive to fulfill any promises because he can not run for a third term. He could just kick back and play golf for four years. But, I think his Peter to Paul problem is etched into his personality. It is part of his DNA.

    • Glen Stambaugh

      He would surely play golf, but would also do everything possible via every agency in his influence to embed his socialist programs as deeply into government as possible. A stalemate with congress would not stop this. We would move ever closer towards a European-like precipice point of no return. He may already have accomplished this. Time is not on our side.

      • sunnyinaz

        One would hope and pray a stalemate would eliminate the possibility that he could somehow put another of his ilk on the supreme court.