Written by Daniel Greenfield
It's an iron law of nature as certain as the one about an angel getting its wings every time a bell rings or a snowstorm blanketing the area every time Al Gore comes to town to remind the carbon puffing infidels about Global Warming; every time Obama gives a speech; a thousand businesses go out of business. On July 24th, to celebrate Venezuela's Simon Bolivar Day, Obama delivered yet another economic speech in which he castigated Republicans in Congress for the sequester that he proposed, promised big economic benefits for the entire country from Green Energy and Illegal Immigration and promised to spend every one of his remaining days trying to help working people; at least those days when he isn't on the golf course, on vacation at Martha’s Vineyard or delivering useless speeches.
An Obama speech is a familiar quality that even the scribblers whose limbs once tingled at the touch of the teleprompter have developed a callous contempt for its reflexively dishonest "Let me be clears" and the infinite "I's" that roll off its assembly line speechmakers.
An economics speech, a creature that Barack Obama has been unleashing from his political zoo on the taxpayers, lawmakers and layabouts since his post-election days in 2008 of pretending to be president complete with an imaginary seal with the motto "Vero Possumus”, (which can be translated very loosely as "God Help Us All"), is an entirely familiar breed.
It's an FDR-on-crack assemblage of crackpot social plans masquerading as economic plans and homey testaments to American exceptionalism wrapped around bankrupt Euro ideas about how to run a country into the ground. And in the year 2013, the whole thing smells like last year's leftovers.
There are the warnings about all the old bridges threatening to fall down and kill the trolls living under them. Despite a second term in office, a stimulus plan, a plan to stimulate the stimulus plan and years of assorted pork, there are apparently now more Damocles bridges in the land than there ever were before.
In 2009, Obama promised to fix all the crumbling roads and bridges with a $787 billion stimulus plan full of "shovel-ready jobs". Two years later he joked to the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, led by GE CEO Jeff Immelt, whose company is the 15th biggest government contractor, that the shovel-ready jobs were not shovel-ready. It would have been nice to know that before we spent the $787 billion, but maybe that's why all the old bridges keep threatening to fall down.
And then there are the promises that we can fix all our problems with a Green Energy revolution that drives up electricity rates for everyone in order to buy windmills and solar panels from China. The Green Energy revolution has done a lot for Red China's middle class while further eviscerating the standard of living for American middle class families who are just trying to keep the lights on.
Naturally no Obama speech on the economy would be complete without urging us to invest more in education in order to get our hands on tomorrow's jobs. "If you think education is expensive," Obama said, borrowing his line from a bumper sticker, "wait until you see how much ignorance costs in the 21st century."
But we don't have to choose. As Detroit shows us, we can have both. Detroit has 5,000 teachers to 88,000 students. Its biggest challenge has been trying to win back another 5,000 students who escaped to charter schools to justify not laying off all the extra teachers. Its billion dollar school budget is all the more shocking in a city that is deep in debt and suffers from a 47 percent illiteracy rate.
The education system fosters incredibly expensive ignorance. And that ignorance can not only be found in public schools in Detroit's ghettos, but in the Ivy League alma maters of Obama and his financial advisers.
Obama's 6 trillion dollar debt is a testament to the high price of ignorance. As are all of his economic speeches calling for more Green Energy, more education and more taxes to solve all of our ills. In his latest speech, he vowed that making "preschool available to every four year-old in America" would make America competitive in the "ocean of tomorrows" and "a sky of tomorrows".
A thinking man must wonder how this backward, racist, soda-swilling country of ours ever got anything done without shoving every four-year-old in America into a "high quality preschool" presided over by the fired public school teachers of Detroit. Incredibly enough we managed to get to the moon, which was a lot closer to tomorrow than we have ever gotten from an Obama speech. Is America's competitiveness really impeded by the lack of universal preschools? Or is it something bigger that's in the way? Could we have saved Detroit with more preschools and Green Energy?
About the only thing in Obama's entire 5,000 word speech that was at all interesting was in its opening as he pivoted from discussing the loss of middle class jobs to inveighing against the income inequality of the 1 percent. It was a convenient dodge that his average supporter was incapable of noticing, but it's at the heart of what's wrong with Obama's economic logic.
Income inequality is not at all the same thing as lost jobs. It's not that the two aren't connected. One reason for income inequality is because many wealthier Americans are profiting from offshore labor. The natural internal economic growth that would be happening here has instead been outsourced to China where the middle class is growing at an impressive rate.
Obama's speech however stayed in familiar class warfare territory. Its implication was that if the wealthy were made to pay their fair share, the lost manufacturing jobs would somehow come back. The economic logic of that is absurd. Even if we assume that the wealthy are the villains of the piece, taxing them at Hollandaise rates seems as likely to bring back the jobs as constructing cardboard factories in a cargo cult ceremony to summon the spirits of the lost jobs would.
But Obama, like most of his Socialist brethren, isn't really interested in repairing the broken relationships of the economy. The logic running through his Bolivarian speech is that forcing the rich, or at least those of their class who haven't written their timely checks to Organizing for America, to pay more will allow the government to create more jobs.
The only thing wrong with that notion is that trying to create more jobs through higher taxes is like trying to save the Titanic by drilling more holes in its hull. It doesn't work for the same reason that perpetual motion machines don't work. Any process that promises to create more energy than is put into it is doomed.
But Obama's perpetual motion tax machine isn't even close to being sensible. If other liberals at least made an effort at spray painting the shoebox black and making "vroom, vroom" noises while it spins, there isn't even any serious effort at deception here.
Obama isn't even bothering to promise to create jobs by creating more jobs. Instead all he's offering are the same empty social welfare promises that more social services, more preschools, more free internet, more Green Energy, more ObamaCare, will turn the economy around, while shamelessly claiming that it has already done as much.
There are still the occasional nods to all the nation's broken bridges that are just about to fall down, but mostly it's the same empty Socialism that proposes to tax a country to death because it's right and just to do so.
"In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes," Benjamin Franklin wrote to a French correspondent around the time that the United States Constitution took effect. Some two centuries later, government has combined death and taxes into one by taxing the economy to death.
Taxing economies to death is one thing that we have in common with the French. President Hollande began his disastrous term in office with a proposed 75% tax rate. The move sent some of the country's most prominent citizens scrambling for the exits, while the newspapers of the left screamed hysterically for their heads like a pack of cut-rate Robespierres.
France's move to tax its economy to death hit a snag when its budget minister, a member of the Socialist Party in good standing, who was supposed to lead the crusade to make the rich pay their fair 75 percent share admitted to hiding some $790,000 in a secret Swiss bank account. Then he was caught having tried to move another $19 million into a Swiss bank around the time that he was appointed Vice-President of the Socialist Group in the French National Assembly. The only thing that would have made the scene more ridiculous is if the group had kept its old name of Socialists, Radicals, Citizens and the Assorted Left.
Shameless hypocrisy and corruption is another thing that we have in common with France. And every other government on earth.
Obama has squandered money like Louis XVI and then pledged to lead a revolution to find where the rest of the money is. Surrounded by some of the most corrupt billionaires in the country, whose think-tanks help write the policy proposals that the teleprompter feeds into his brain, he inveighs against the 1 percent. And he tops it all off by claiming his disasters as successes.
Death and taxes are the only certain thing in America. But not in Detroit, where half the property owners simply chose not to pay them/ In Egypt, much of the country doesn't pay taxes. It is not difficult to imagine an America in which everyone but a handful of corporations no longer pays taxes. This libertarian paradise will be achieved not through reforms, but through social breakdown.
Obama taxes Americans. He taxes their incomes, their lifebloods and their patience. He has put his entire faith in taxes, in grubbing up enough money to serve as collateral for his latest scheme. And the road that his paradise of amnesty for illegal aliens, Green Energy for electric poverty and more government employees to administer the whole mess leads to is Detroit. Or Egypt.
Pick one. It doesn't really matter.. What escapes Obama, even as he delivers another meandering speech, is that he isn't really fooling anyone. At least not in the way he thinks. Not even most of his media allies really believe that any plan he proposes will really work. They evaluate it only based on its conformity to their ideology.
Most polls show that Americans believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction. They don't believe that Obama can or will fix anything. His bleatings about broken bridges, high tech schools and all the other nonsense that he has been relentlessly telepromptering since 2008 falls on deaf ears. What they believe is that he is well-meaning. That is why they voted for him. In the finest traditions of affirmative action, they tried to give him a second chance, not because they believed that he would succeed, but because he seemed like such a nice guy.
Obama does not occupy the White House because the nation believes in him, but because it believes in itself; in its own decency, its own sense of fair play and its own eagerness to show that it is on the side of the better angels. He has been given a chance to destroy America by an America that believes in being kind to its destroyers.
All Obama has to offer to America is a promise that consolidating government power through wealth redistribution will build the better country that he hasn't managed to build yet. While Americans go on believing in America, Obama believes only in death and taxes.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.