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Obama’s Fairness Scheme

April 3, 2009

Charles Krauthammer at the Washington Post has is of the opinion that President Obama is pressing a not-so-secret agenda,

Obama has far different ambitions. His goal is to rewrite the American social compact, to recast the relationship between government and citizen. He wants government to narrow the nation’s income and anxiety gaps. Soak the rich for reasons of revenue and justice. Nationalize health care and federalize education to grant all citizens of all classes the freedom from anxiety about health care and college that the rich enjoy. And fund this vast new social safety net through the cash cow of a disguised carbon tax.

Obama is a leveler. He has come to narrow the divide between rich and poor. For him the ultimate social value is fairness. Imposing it upon the American social order is his mission.

Arch-conservatives like Krauthammer are in a difficult situation these days with regard to the economy. They are, at heart, still wedded to Reagan’s trickle-down, Laffer curve, supply-side economics that believes fervently that the government should encourage the growth of earnings and capital production for the wealthiest as a means of stimulating the economy, eventually benefiting the majority. This should be done by encouraging the market to reward risk-taking and to weed out inefficiencies. The most glaring and persistent inefficiency these conservatives see is the meddlesome hand of government, tipping the scales for its favorites and wreaking havoc on the efficient and objective workings of the market. The problem with this approach to economics is that, in today’s world of bank crises, foreclosures, ballooning deficits and whole swathes of the country being hit hard by unemployment, the workings of the market seem to have gone haywire. And the only player big enough to reign it in is the federal government. Small government conservatives, as a result, find themselves in the position of arguing that the government can best serve the economy, and hence the people, by staying out of the way and letting the market right itself and our country. In essence, to let those who broke the market fix it. And all the while, the people who suffer with lost jobs and houses are supposed to trust the invisible hand of the market to reach down and save them from financial ruin. That’s a tough sell and, in trying to make that argument, they wind up writing articles like Krauthammer has here, trying to make fairness and “leveling” the playing field sound like a nefarious scheme.

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