Republicans and conservatives flirted with comparing Obama's policies to socialism before the "Joe the Plumber" moment. But after the Joe the Plumber question, in which Obama suggested that progressive taxation -- when applied in a way that makes a bit more sense than the Bush tax cuts for the rich -- would create more opportunity for poor people/most Americans, the Republicans pounced and ignored McCain statements like this:
'93I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us at the expense of middle class Americans who most need tax relief."
McCain said that progressive tax systems are based on the fact that '93we feel, obviously, that wealthy people can afford more.'94 He spelled out this response: '93Here's what I really believe, that when you are -- reach a certain level of comfort, there's nothing wrong with paying somewhat more.'94
But that was the "old McCain," so I guess it doesn't apply.
The obvious criticism of me is to suggest that when Obama said he'd "spread the wealth" around, he meant it in the Robin Hood sense. That is, he would take money from the rich and give it directly to the poor. They base this on Obama's tax plan which, in some cases, would cut checks to people who don't even pay income taxes. "SOCIALISM" they cry. "COMMUNISM!" they yell (and one young girl acts like a monkey, right in front of her parents). They say it's welfare. All the while, they conveniently ignore the fact that even when people don't qualify for income taxes, they still pay a considerable portion of their income to payroll taxes. Social security and Medicare and all that. And did I mention that even millionaires get social security checks? I just want to mention that.
You know who else was a socialist? Ronald Reagan. See the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Now let's talk about socialism. Socialism, in the older sense, involves the government/people controlling the means of production. Now, I don't know what "industry" the Right might suggest that Obama wants to socialize. Certainly not the banks--the Republicans have already taken care of that. Health care? Well, his plan pools together private insurance companies to provide health care. It doesn't create a national health care provider. Maybe they mean "socialism" in the sense of modern European socialism which places more emphasis on the creation of an egalitarian society. Well, Obama is asking people to take the day off work and make sure they vote, and help get out the vote. But I don't see anything in his proposed policies that would, say, guarantee a minimum income.
Obama is in favor of the Employee Free Choice Act, which might help re-unionize our labor force (which, especially in the manufacturing sector, has declined in the past decades). The folks over at the Corner (National Review) hate that. Oh no! Collective bargaining! Organization! God forbid the government help factory workers protect themselves and their jobs, so they are treated like the asset to our nation they clearly are. The next time I hear a Republican railing on and on about how the 'elitist' Democrats don't care about the little guy, I'm going to puke.
Or, and I'm just going to throw this out there, maybe Obama's not a socialist. Maybe he's just a liberal, and that word just doesn't have the negative connotation that it did back in '04 and '00. The "terrorist sympathizer" label ain't stickin', and it's difficult to try race-based politics these days, though the Republicans like to beat around the bush.
So what some Republicans think we have on our hands is a communist socialist non-American Muslim wrong-kind-of-Christian athiest terrorist sympathizer foreign-policy-wimp who is too much of a hawk when it comes to fighting terrorism and who has no record to speak of. Oh, except they think he has a record of being a communist socialist non-American Muslim wrong-kind-of-Christian athiest terrorist sympathizer foreign-policy-wimp who is too much of a hawk when it comes to fighting terrorism. But he has no record.
Have I got that right? You guys sound rather conflicted. Can you narrow it down to the one or two false story lines that won't flatly contradict one another? Because then you might be more effective. Still wrong, but more effective.
Until next time.