Sunday, October 19, 2008

McCain's Scorched Earth Campaign Socialism

Wow. Now Obama's a socialist.

Thing is, I could understand someone having concerns about the expansion of the welfare state that will be entailed by Obama's health care plan. Although I have no real position on health care, I do find Obama's plan relatively congenial. But, still, there are obviously more than a few rational worries one might have about it.

But that doesn't seem to be the source of the charges of socialism. Rather, the source seems to be Obama's poorly-formulated claim that he wants to "spread the wealth around." (Something he said in casual conversation with non-Joe the non-plumber.)What he should have said--and I'll guess this is what he meant--is that we should spread the burdens around fairly.

Now, since all Obama wants to do is go back to pre-Bush tax rates for the very well-off, to think that Obama is a socialist on these grounds, you have to think that we were a socialist country pre-Bush.

I could, of course, be wrong about this, but I've got to say that this charge resonates with me not one bit.

Perhaps the McCain campaign is serious about it, but my guess is that this is just more of their wildly-flailing scorched-earth campaigning. They'll say just about anything to win--though to McCain's credit, he apparently won't bring up Reverend Wright--no matter how misleading and divisive. Even if it leaves Obama with a radially divided and ungovernable country, the McCain campaign will say it, so long as it marginally increases their miniscule odds of winning.

It's despicable. Campaigning of this kind needs to be punished with overwhelming defeat.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everybody says Mccain will lose. Ok. But all the plumber was saying is that the American Dream is to work hard and have a business and some day you might have a nice business and a house and your kids and get to take it easy and retire. I know people who work hard and I hope they get American Dream and I don't think you should take that away from them with taxes. Thank's to them I have a job and thats what Obama doesn't understand and I don't think you do either.

1:26 AM  
Blogger Myca said...

Anonymous, do you just wake up in the morning and start thinking of non sequiturs to post?

You say that "the American Dream is to work hard and have a business and some day you might have a nice business and a house and your kids and get to take it easy and retire."

That's lovely, and Barack Obama's plan is designed more or less specifically to help you achieve that. I'm not sure why on earth you would think otherwise.

2:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody needs Obamas help. they work hard without him. People have been doing it for all American History. I said what the American Dream is because thats what it is. Why do you all write this stuff, you didn't say anything. I really don't understand why you guys keep telling me Obama will cut my taxes and has a plan when the American dream is to work hard and have some imagination. Buy my vote. What do you thing taxes on somebody else will get me the American Dream? Rich people are rich but their not that rich. Vote for Obama but stop with the crap Ok? McCain isn't going to get me the American Dream either because nobody can except hard work but at least he wont take it way if I get there. Why on earth would you think otherwise? Myca? I'll probable never be rich but so what. Stealing more taxes from people who work hard won't make me rich either Ok? So don't tax the American Dream. It's not brain surgery.

4:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, just answer one thing and I'll go away. Who gives YOU a job? Answer honestly and I'll go away. And don't say McCain is like a racist haha or wants to kill Obama. just answer the question with no crap.

4:23 AM  
Blogger Myca said...

Seriously, Anonymous, please learn how to punctuate and write in complete and coherent sentences. This is like reading William S. Burroughs, if he were ill-informed and fed a steady diet of Fox News.

Anonymous, the question is who should bear the greater burden of taxes . . . those who are still attempting to achieve the 'American Dream', or those who have already achieved it?

Obama's plan is, in essence, to tax those who are currently attempting to achieve a certain threshold of wealth less than those who have already achieved it. This would make it a little easier to achieve that threshold (the American Dream) by offering a little help (in the form of reduced taxation) when it's most needed.

Both Obama's and McCain's plan involve higher taxes on one group and lower on another. Thus, if you believe that it's fair to characterize Obama's plan as stealing from the wealthy to give to the poor, then surely it's fair to characterize McCain's plan as stealing from the poor to give to the wealthy.

Between the two of them, I believe that Obama's plan more sense and is more economically viable. In fact, most economists agree with me! A recent survey of academic economists by the magazine The Economist found that "the majority—at times by overwhelming margins—believe Mr Obama has the superior economic plan, a firmer grasp of economics and will appoint better economic advisers."

And, lest you suggest party bias, you'll see that 71% of non-party-affiliated economists back Obama, as well as twice the number of Republicans, (46% favor Obama's economic plan versus 23% who favor McCain's).

Anonymous, I doubt you're an economist, and I know full well that I'm not. when it comes to evaluating economic plans, then, why not leave it to the experts? The experts have, overwhelmingly endorsed Barack Obama on this topic.


5:07 AM  
Blogger Myca said...

Oh gosh, I forgot to insert the link for that Economist article, Anonymous, and I knew you'd want to be able to read it on your own.

Here it is!


5:10 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Excellent link, Myca.

8:35 AM  
Blogger Myca said...

Thanks, The Mystic.

I know A. is a troll, and I know that addressing him seriously is a mistake, but sometimes, I just can't help myself. It's a compulsion.


2:06 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...


I saw this in the Economist, and, like so many other things, have been meaning to post it. Thanks.

2:58 PM  
Blogger Myca said...

My pleasure, Winston. What I've been kind of meaning to do for a while over at Alas is combine a number of different economics posts I've seen around, including:

1) That article from the Economist
2) The stuff everyone was blogging about relating to Larry Bartels' Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age which argues (pretty persuasively, I think) that Democratic presidents are better for the economy than Republican ones.
3) An article from Slate back in 2002 on the Stock Market preferring Democratic presidents.
4) This post by Ezra Klein, which contains the most impressive money quote I've seen in a while:

The liberals were right. Not the Democrats. The liberals. They were right that deregulation had gone too far. They were right when they spent the last few years offering unpopular predictions that the Housing Bubble would pop. They were right that a liquidity problem had become a solvency problem. They were right that government intervention on a massive scale was needed to stabilize the capitalist system. They were so right, in fact, that Hank Paulson and George W. Bush couldn't hold the line, and will now sign into law the most profoundly socialist measure this country has seen since the 1930s.


3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question: Is Obama planning on restructuring the tax brackets, too? The cutoff number in his plan is $250,000, but that number does not currently divide any tax brackets, it looks like. I never noticed this until now, because I've never made $250,000 in one year. I just assumed he was leaving the brackets as they are, but changing the amount of taxes they pay on them.

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

READ THIS-According to the Pew study, 76 percent of poor Republicans believe most people can get ahead with hard work. Only 14 percent of poor Democrats believe that. Poor Republicans haven't made it yet, but they embrace what they take to be the Republican economic vision - that it is in their power to do so. Poor Democrats are more likely to believe they are in the grip of forces beyond their control.

So what does that mean? Democrats don't work as hard as republicans because its useless.

Or if they work hard, their just stupid I guess because that doesn't get you anywhere. But they don't.
Let me give you a clue-its true because I see it at the job. People who like Obama don't work so hard so they like him to spread the weath from Joe The Plumber. That way people who take it easy get paid the same as people who don't. Its an old story.

Nobody answered my question honestly either about your job so I can bet you don't work hard like 12 hour a day or I bet you don't worry about your job going out of business. So talk about The Economist all you want. I live in real life and you don't. To tax the American Dream is what people who don't work hard do and you know thats the truth. So I'll try to work hard writing too so you won't be so snobby.

8:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My compliments to the comic genius creator of the 'Anonymous' character. Really a monumental achievement in parody.

Seriously, though, I wonder why, if all the Republicans are such hard workers and the Democrats are lazy loafers, do the so-called 'red states' feed so much at the trough of the public treasury which is heavily 'blue-state' generated?

It's just a mystery to me. I'm sure that if I gaze into a right-winger's soul though, I can find the answer.

And also if hard work is the way to get ahead and improve one's lot in life, why do the effete socialists of Europe achieve better economic mobility than we do here in the great beacon of productivity?:

It's a mystery wrapped inside an enigma.

9:50 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

To Lewis:


At Anonymous:


10:18 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I dunno you least Anonymous seems to be *trying* at this point. At least there's no name-calling in this comment. I think that's worth *something*.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You, Winston Smith, I'll *try* if you will. the article says POOR Democrats and Republicans not red states and blue states. Why work hard if it's useless and Obama will spread the wealth anyway? That's real life. I say we shouldn't tax the American Dream and hard work or nobody will do it and thats the fact. I don't know why my punctuation is more important than writing LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL. That's real intelligent and I'm ill-informed and fed a steady diet of Fox News and that doesn't get erased. Ok, whatever. I'm *trying.*

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He/she may be trying, but apparently not much good at reading comprehension.

7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

YOU don't have reading comprehension. There are poor people everywhere but the ones that work hard don't STAY POOR. POOR Democrats don't work hard because they think its useless. That's real life, my friend. I see it everyday. The American Dream. This isn't name calling, Winston Smith, don't erase this. That's the rules. I have a right of self defense. He did it first. Another LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL and can't even give an honest answer. Who do you think you are? Oh, you think you're better then me. Good for you.

2:22 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

You're totally right, A. There's no grounds for erasing this, so I've got no right to do so. I'm totally with you on that.

I don't think anybody here thinks they're better than you, A. Everybody's just got their dander up--including you, though, I'd point out.

I *will* say that I think that it's important to stress the importance of self-reliance, and I think Republicans are far better at that than Democrats. I do have some fairly strong concerns that much of their talk about self-reliance is really aimed at preventing the non-rich from complaining about their policies that unfairly favor the rich...but I guess I can't be sure about that part.

8:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, the simple and inescapable fact is that if we implemented the policy A is suggesting, and continued to reduce taxes, particularly on the *productive* members of society, the blue states would redirect (via state taxes) that revenue which was going to Washington into building their own infrastructures, educational sysytems and regulatory frameworks. As a result, the "low-tax" red states would degenerate further toward third world status, which they're already well on their way to:


and the "blue states" would excel in quality of life measures.

The cites I gave showed that 1) red states are net takers and blue states are net givers and 2) the European model generates more economic mobility (e.g. more genuine *opportunity*) than the US model.

Now you can go ahead and argue whatever you want, but screaming loud doesn't make your evidence (whatever of it there is) any stronger. As Senator Moynihan famously said, you're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

Speaking as someone in the top income tax bracket, with a business that has at various times employed 10-15 people, I can unequivocally state that I would gladly pay the higher taxes necessary to create the econoomic conditions of the 90s when more people could afford more of our services and my income was much higher. But that's probably because I'm a lazy socialist.

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. It also appears that Senator McCain was against "self-reliance" before he was for it:

"“There’s one big difference between me and the others–I won’t take every last dime of the surplus and spend it on tax cuts that mostly benefit the wealthy.” [McCain campaign commercial, January 2000]

“I am disappointed that the Senate Finance Committee preferred instead to cut the top tax rate of 39.6% to 36%, thereby granting generous tax relief to the wealthiest individuals of our country at the expense of lower- and middle-income American taxpayers.” [McCain Senate floor statement, May 21, 2001]

“But when you look at the percentage of the tax cuts that–as the previous tax cuts–that go to the wealthiest Americans, you will find that the bulk of it, again, goes to wealthiest Americans.” [NBC’s “Today,” Jan. 7, 2003]"

From a commenter at John Cole's place:

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

YOU have no reading comprehension. You keep talking about other things to distract from being wrong. Nobody talked about red states and blue states except you. Distraction. People don't work hard if they think its useless and nobody got the American Dream without working hard. And don't Tax the American Dream. That's it. Give it up and Goodbye. Thank You Winston Smith. Goodbye.

12:54 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, 'bye, A. Sorry things got unpleasant here. But I think that talking about red state and blue states can illuminate the same points you were interested in, about poor Dems and poor Republicans. Sorry again.

8:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The life form known as 'Anonymous' doesn't understand that slogans like "Don't tax the American Dream" are neither arguments in themselves nor evidence for any argument.

It also seems to think there was no "hard work" or "American Dreams" in the 50s and 60s when marginal tax rates were 70-90%. Not that I think returning to those rates is a good idea. But I digress.

It also doesn't understand that red states and blue states represent laboratories that have tested the hypotheses of progressive vs. regressive tax rates, investment vs. non-investment in things like infrastructure and education etc. Somehow people in high-tax states manage to be more productive than those in low-tax states. How on earth can that be so, since we in the blue states are so disincentivized to work hard by crushing tax rates? This is something I just don't understand.

Finally, anyone, ANYONE advocating lower taxes on higher earners needs to do one of two things. Go here

and tell me where they would cut to balance the budget. Or, explain why this concept

is not valid as applied to income. I don't expect to ever get a cogent answer from a heavy Kool-Aid drinker, though.

9:57 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

It's not that I disagree with your policy points, LC, for I don't, I don't. I was just worrying that we were being too hard on A who--though he was occasionally rather agressive--seemed to be at least trying to engage at least some of the time. But I could be wrong about that.

12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm feelin' ya, Winston.

1:18 PM  

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