For a week or so now, I’ve been listening to smart conservatives suggest that Obama’s “spreading the wealth” remark might really, really hurt him – “talk about playing into the most extreme stereotype of your party, that it is infested with socialists,” writes James Pethokoukis – and I have a question: Hasn’t Obama been promising to spread the wealth throughout the entire race – a race he seems to be winning at the moment? His signal domestic-policy proposals are 1) a series of tax cuts and tax credits aimed at Americans making less than $250,000 a year and 2) a big-ticket health care reform aimed at expanding coverage; both of these plans, he promises, can be paid for with tax hikes on the richest 5 percent of Americans. This agenda isn’t a big socialist secret; it’s more or less the basis of his campaign. I suppose it’s possible that the “spreading the wealth” turn of phrase throws the redistributionist aspect of Obama’s agenda into relief in a way his campaign promises haven’t. But it seems to me like a generic restatement of a message that’s central to the Democratic campaign: Namely, that the rich haven’t paid their fair share under Republican rule, and that people making over $250,000 a year should pay more in taxes so that most Americans can pay less, to the IRS and in health-insurance premiums.
Has the McCain campaign made a fundamental mistake in attack politics — don’t charge your opponent with something that doesn’t seem to pass the smell test beyond your base? This “socialist” charge is going to be hard for many middle-of-the-road voters to believe, particularly after Powell endorsed his candidacy. Saying Obama’s a “liberal,” well there are facts to back that up. But the socialist charge feels like an over-reach, and it may be falling on deaf ears. Of course, with the government getting so involved with our financial markets right now and McCain wanting to use federal money to buy up bad mortgages, it’s hard for McCain to back up his socialist charge since he wants a similar amount of government intervention.
Exactly. The appropriate response to any Republican who calls Obama a socialist after eight years of Bush and after listening to McCain’s own proposals is outright ridicule. Laugh in their face. Mock them. They have zero credibility, and the word socialism no longer has any meaning, at least not in American politics. That the Republicans still have not realized this on the very day that Ben Bernanke is on the hill advocating more spending in order to stimulate the economy is just extra precious. As a commenter noted:
Socialist: raising the top tax rate from 35% to 39%.
Free-Market: nationalizing the banks, massive investment in insurance agencies, limiting certain types of trades, raising the debt ceiling, and promoting government investment into stocks and bonds. And an emphasis on Red States.
It’s all so clear now!
We are all socialists now, Ross.
*** Update ***
Let’s play list the bailouts- I will start with AIG, the airline industries post 9/11, the 25 billion to the auto industry a few weeks ago, and hell, I think an argument could be made that the SuperFund clean-ups that have been going on for who knows how long constitutes a bailout of sorts- how many of those companies would have gone under had they been forced to pay for the toxic mess they left behind. Add your own.