Regular readers know that we here at AWildDuck have a love-hate relationship with the US president. We endorsed him in the November election, but we had some blunt and critical reservations. Of course, bluntness is our trademark style, but in this case, we explained a schism in ethos that reduces the effectiveness of the American president.
Mr. Obama rivals Bill Clinton in his command of foreign policy. He has an innate understanding of democracy, law and homeland security. He is an ethical man with good ideas about helping to elevate those who cannot help themselves. But he lacks a fundamental belief in free market economics. He is suspicious of wealth—and for some reason, he thinks that someone earning 100 times as much as another individual should pay far more than 100 times as much in taxes after you deduct basic living costs for both individuals. Although supporters refute the “socialist” label that is tossed from the right, it is not completely unjustified. Recall how Obama railed against corporate ‘fat cats’ who fly on corporate jets. Obama feels that it is not sufficient to build a safety net for the poor, he has a mission of doing it by soaking the rich.
Of course, the problem is that there is not enough wealth in the 1% to address the hole that we have dug. More importantly, he fails to accept the basic premise of capital in-centives. Did he miss a principle taught in every first-year economics class in the free world? Time for a refresher. If you slept through that class, here is the Cliff Notes version: If we punish individuals who build business, employ the middle class and already pay the lion’s share of taxes, then these individuals will build empires elsewhere.
So, since we really do like Mr. Obama, what is a Wild Duck to do?
In the build up to possible Sequestration (America’s newest fiscal cliff), we believe the solution is for Republicans to let the budget ax fall where it may. Don’t compromise on letting the White House legislate ever higher disproportionate tax tiers. That plan is not only divisive, it is a path of economic suicide. It can only lead to capital flight.
Today, in a Wall Street Journal editorial, John Boehner explains that the idea for automatic and across the board budget cuts originated with the White House, but we dispute that looming cuts were designed solely to force bipartisanship and scare legislators into crafting a more palatable plan. Nonsense! Sudden and drastic cuts are necessary to demonstrate to our creditors that we understand our obligations. We cannot continue to renege on debts and fleece our own grandchildren, by continuing to spend beyond our means.
As we go to press, sequestration is 10 days away. In a speech tonight (Feb 19, 2013), Mr. Obama stood before a gaggle of first responders, insisting that the indiscriminate cuts mandated by sequestration would result in layoff of thousands of safety personnel, teachers, airport security and flight controllers, and result in the cancellation of the Head Start program and urgently needed upgrades to an aircraft carrier.
Analysts say that Obama has the high ground. They say that if economic malaise ensues, Republican legislators will be held accountable. We agree. That’s because he is not only an ethical man, he is poised and articulate. And of course, as Republicans often complain, he is extending his campaign mode instead of offering to compromise with legislators.
So, with apologies to Jonathan Swift, we wish to proffer our own modest proposal. An idea on how Republicans can seize the high ground without giving in: We humbly suggest that Republicans announce a press conference immediately. “Hello, America…We understand that indiscriminate cuts would cripple the economy and penalize the needy. We will compromise. We cannot stand by and watch senseless cuts, and so we offer to work with the president on sensible cuts.” Since we cannot seem to agree on taxes, we will work hand-in-hand with the president to reduce the deficit by prioritizing the cuts that are mandated.
Of course, we are in the midst of a crisis, so we won’t limit our cuts to obvious waste. We will make the tough choices and target all those programs that the president never mentions in his popular stump speeches. Hmm-m-m. Where to start? How about you, Mr. President? Any ideas?
This position, will remind Americans that while the president points to the calamity that accompanies cuts to teachers, firefighters, air traffic controllers and battleships, he never cites the other end of his list. What programs can be eliminated or cut way back?. It’s easy to denounce pork and graft, but where will the real belt-tightening begin? Since the wealth of the 1% doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, this is a discussion that really needs to be vetted. And very soon.
Let’s be clear: We support President Obama. In most of his pursuits and methods, he has our admiration and endorsement. But it’s time that this Harvard Law student gain macro-economic perspective. We think that an offer to let the president take the lead in slashing the budget will turn the conversation and take the wind out of his argument that the deficit can be addressed by soaking the wealthy.
Try as he might, nothing the president can do will soak the wealthy. It is not realistic. It will only move the wealth out of the United States, along with the jobs, the technology, the Nobel Prizes and the economic gains that follow it.
As we go to press, it’s reassuring to see The Wall Street Journal agrees that mandated cuts driven by a firm deadline may not be a bad thing. But this is not exactly our point. In our opinion, they needn’t be across-the-board.
— Ellery Davies is editor of AWildDuck. Once in awhile,
he returns to his roots and becomes a political pundit.