Let the man speak. Krauthammer is a brilliant human with a degree in psychiatry. He comes to play.
The rout was complete, the retreat disorderly. President Obama got his tax hikes — naked of spending cuts — passed by the ostensibly Republican House of Representatives. After which, you might expect him to pivot to his self-proclaimed “principle” of fiscal “balance” by taking the lead on reducing spending. “Why,” asked the Washington Post on the eve of the final “fiscal-cliff” agreement, “is the nation’s leader not embracing and then explaining the balanced reforms the nation needs?”
Because he has no interest in them. He’s a visionary, not an accountant. Sure, he’ll pretend to care about deficits, especially while running for reelection. But now that he’s past the post, he’s free to be himself — a committed big-government social democrat. …
…Why the insistence?
(1) Partisan advantage. As I wrote last month, the ultimatum was designed to exploit and exacerbate internal Republican divisions. It worked perfectly. Boehner’s attempted finesse (Plan B), which would have raised rates but only for those making more than $1 million, collapsed amid an open rebellion from a good quarter of the Republican caucus.
At which point, power passed from the House to the Senate, where a deal was brokered. By the time the Senate bill reached the House, there was no time or room for maneuver. Checkmate. Obama neutralized the one body that had stymied him during the past two years.
(2) Ideological breakthrough. Obama’s ultimate ambition is to break the nation’s 30-year thrall of low taxes — so powerful that those who defied the Reaganite norm paid heavily for it. Walter Mondale’s acceptance speech at the 1984 convention promising to raise taxes ended his campaign before it began. President George H. W. Bush’s no-new-taxes reversal cost him a second term.
On this, too, Obama is succeeding. He not only got his tax increase passed. He did it with public opinion behind him.
Why are higher taxes so important to him?
First, as a means: A high-tax economy is liberalism’s only hope for sustaining and enlarging the entitlement state. It provides the funds for enlightened adventures in everything from algae to Obamacare.
Second, as an end in itself. Fundamentally, Obama is a leveler. The community organizer seeks, above all, to reverse the growing inequality that he dates and attributes to ruthless Reaganism. Now, however, clothed in the immense powers of the presidency, he can actually engage in unadorned redistributionism. As in Tuesday night’s $620 billion wealth transfer.
Upon losing the House in 2010, the leveler took cover for the next two years. He wasn’t going to advance his real agenda through the Republican House anyway, and he needed to win reelection.
Now he’s won. The old Obama is back. He must not be underestimated. He has deftly leveraged his class-war-themed election victory (a) to secure a source of funding (albeit still small) for the bloated welfare state, (b) to carry out an admirably candid bit of income redistribution, and (c) to fracture the one remaining institutional obstacle to the rest of his ideological agenda.
Not bad for two months’ work.
No, not bad. The problem is simple. The nation’s good leaders on both sides of the aisle are trying to save doesn’t exist anymore. There are fewer and fewer producers and more and more takers. Less and less intelligent citizens and more and more “low information voters” as Rush describes them. This is akin to being at an “all you can eat buffet” occupied by fat hungry people and trying to tell them nothing here is good for them. The smart thing to do is get out of the way BEFORE you get trampled or accidentally consumed.
Obama is going to be filthy rich and far beyond any of the damage he is causing, as are many of his allies and “friends.” He and his family are safe for generations.
Sadly, I can’t say that about the rest of us.