President Obama is on a mission. It’s an undertaking focused not around building a better society, but about destroying the Republican Party.
“We’re expecting here, over the next 22 months, to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party,” House Speaker John Boehner said recently. “And let me just tell you, I do believe that is their goal – to just shove us into the dustbin of history.”
Paul Ryan agrees. “My concern is the president may be more concerned with political ends, 2014, versus actually moving to the middle,” the Wisconsin representative said. “All of the statements and all of the comments lead me to believe that he’s thinking more of a political conquest than a political compromise.”
Contrary to his nice-sounding statements in the run up to his historic 2008 presidential bid, Obama’s goal has never been to eliminate partisanship or govern from the center. His goal has been to implement a vision—his vision—of social justice and to eliminate anyone who stands in his way or marginalize any issues that distract from that goal. And it’s far past time for Republicans to take his threat seriously. The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan writes,
“Finally, it became obvious this week that the Republican Party top to bottom has to start taking Barack Obama seriously. All the famous criticisms of him are true: He has no talent for or interest in sustained, good-faith negotiations, he has no real sense of alarm about the great issue of the day, America’s debt. He’s a chill presence in a warm-blooded profession.
But he means business. He means to change America in fundamental ways and along the lines of justice as he sees it. . .
He doesn’t care if you like him—he’d just as soon you did, but it’s not necessary for him. He is certain he is right in what he’s doing, which is changing the economic balance between rich and poor. The rich are going to be made less rich, and those who are needy or request help are going to get more in government services, which the rich will pay for. He’d just as soon the middle class not get lost in the shuffle, but if they wind up marginally less middle class he won’t be up nights. The point is redistribution.”
President Obama seeks to achieve his redistributive schemes through an enlargement of the entitlement state. Despite Obama’s claims we have become a “nation of takers.” As Nicholas Eberstadt writes in the Wall Street Journal, “According to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly half (49%) of Americans today live in homes receiving one or more government transfer benefits. That percentage is up almost 20 points from the early 1980s.”
That figure will only grow worse with the passage of Obamacare.
“The law provides Medicaid benefits or insurance premium subsidies for all Americans up to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level – virtually two-thirds of American society,” adds Mario Loyola at National Review.
Indeed, since 1960 entitlement transfers have grown twice as fast as overall personal income. And yet over that same time period middle class wages have remained largely stagnant and poverty levels have soared. The answer, at least in Obama’s eyes, is not to spur the private economy, but to continue the tried-and-failed approach of redistributing wealth through government transfer programs.
Although this approach will do nothing to help, and a lot to hurt, the lower and middle classes, the strategy could pose an existential threat to the Republican Party. That’s because entitlements breed constituencies who then vote for the party who will protect their handout. Don’t believe me? Just look at how hard tax reform is. Nearly every economist agrees we should pursue tax reform. Nearly every politician agrees with them. So why isn’t it done? Because cleaning out the tax code means getting rid of things like the mortgage interest deduction, the student loan interest deduction and the tax-free treatment of health care – each of which has very large, very wealthy, and very vocal constituencies.
Fortunately, there is a failsafe built into all of this, a simple mathematical reality that will prevent Obama’s vision of buying-off America. The welfare state is not self-perpetuating. It is a vastly expensive machine that cannot simply be paid for on the backs of the wealthy. It will require massively higher taxes for everyone – from the top to the bottom of the income scale – to avoid plunging the nation into default.
Will Americans swallow that reality? Given that the American Revolution essentially began as a tax revolt I’ll reserve a smidgen of hope for the Grand Ol’ Party.