Barack Obama

I Know This Man, I've Worked With This Man. Your Guess, Sir, Is as Good as Mine

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Legal scholar extraordinaire Richard A. Epstein, one of six all-star panelists to assess Barack Obama in the November issue of reason, considers the Democratic nominee at more length over at Forbes.com:

I know him through our association at the University of Chicago Law School and through mutual friends in the neighborhood. We have had one or two serious substantive discussions, and when I sent him e-mails from time to time in the early days of his Senate term, he always answered in a sensible and thoughtful fashion. And yet, for assessing the course of his likely presidency, I don't know him at all. […]

The odd point is how his many learned and thoughtful supporters couch their endorsement. Almost without exception, they praise the man, not the program. Their claim is that Obama has proved himself to be a consummate politician who understands that the first principle of holding high office is to get reelected. His natural moderation in tone and demeanor, therefore, translate into getting advisers who know their substantive areas, and listening to them before making any rash moves. The dominant trope is that he will be a pragmatic president who will move in small increments toward the center, not in bold steps toward the left.

But is it all true? The short answer is that nobody knows. […]

Obama's vague calls for change that "you can believe in" are, to my thinking, wholly retrograde in their implications. At heart, he is an unreconstructed New Dealer who can see, and articulate, both sides on every question–but only as a prelude to championing the old corporatist agenda with a vengeance.

Whole thing here; link via Behind Enemy Lines.

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  1. As if the last eight years haven’t reflected the corporatist agenda?

  2. So that makes it okay?

  3. I have to admit that I too am puzzled by him.

    When I hear his pandering speeches where he says stuff like “We need to put an end to the failed policies of giving to Wall St. and taking from Main St., and focus more on the hard working American,” my initial reaction is to cringe, while I realize he doesn’t actually say anything there that I object to. If I were running for office on a libertarian platform, I could just as easily say the same exact thing. Maybe that’s what we’re missing in our organization, framing (the discussion from yesterday).

  4. As if the last eight years haven’t reflected the corporatist agenda?

    So when Bush does it it’s bad, but if Obama does it, it’s OK? Are you fully retarded, or do you merely have the moron-level intelligence of a hard core partisan hack?

  5. Anyone think his promise not to raise taxes on anyone making

  6. Anyone think his promise not to raise taxes on anyone making less than 250k will last until Inauguration Day?

    Hey, didn’t Clinton make a similar promise in 1992? How’d that work out?

  7. Reinmoose,

    You mean like: “They’re outsourcing your jobs to India! They’re robbing your future! So…I’m going to include labor and environmental protections in the body of future trade deals instead of as side deals. Boo-yah!”

    Good eye. He does that a lot – feel your pain then pivot.

  8. It worked out only slightly better than the story you were flogging about the big, black man carving a B into that young, white woman’s face, TallDave.

    Go back under your rock.

  9. Anyone think his promise not to raise taxes on anyone making less than 250k will last until Inauguration Day?

    Well, I think it will last until then and expire as soon as his oath is complete, if Mrs. Clinton does not interrupt it.

  10. Guy,

    I had assumed it would expire the day after the elections. I guess I’m just not as idealistic as you.

    I guess it doesn’t really matter. Either way, we’ll still be the happy productive class living the good life, the socialists will still be the angry leech class scraping by on whatever they can get their messiah to pry out of our hands at gunpoint and give to them.

  11. Obama is not going to surreptitiously remove all civil liberties through subterfuge. Oh wait. That’s already been done. He doesn’t have to.

  12. Oh hey, did you see vid with the kid getting shocked when he vandalizes the campaign sign? ROFL

    http://hotair.com/archives/2008/10/30/video-the-obligatory-man-wires-campaign-sign-to-shock-thieves-clip/

    Good stuff. I would have titled it “Young Socialist Learns About Property Rights.”

  13. I had assumed it would expire the day after the elections. I guess I’m just not as idealistic as you.

    I don’t think “idealism” is the right word. I just suspect that he will keep up the lie longer than you do, until he can actually do something about it with his Congressional allies.

  14. I really like to know ,how many people make 250,000 or more a year?If you raise their taxes 4 or 5% will it bring in much revenue.I some what doubt it,although I don’t know for sure.Is there really enough of these people to fund his programs?

  15. Michael Pack,

    Sen. Obama was not talking about people who “make” $250,000/year, at least at the beginning. He was talking about small business that have $250,000/yr. in gross receipts. That is a lot of them.

    Oh wait, then later, he expanded it to income tax payers who make over $250,000 which, by using Obamamath is 5% of the nation, because 95% of the workforce is getting a tax cut, even though over 40% of them do not pay income taxes and he has not mentioned lowering payroll taxes, such as FICA, but those people are going to get an extra check of some sort from the government, like the so-called ‘earned-income tax credit’.

    I am sure there is a pony in there someplace, but those might just be for bankers who were loaning money, to people who should not have qualified, at the insistance of the government.

    Does that clear it up? 😉

  16. Oh hey, did you see vid with the kid getting shocked when he vandalizes the campaign sign?

    I’d have tackled him, fondled him, and carved a plumber onto his face.

  17. TallDave,

    Actually, I’ve wondered whether they will install a new tax that they won’t call a tax, so they can keep their pledge. Governments love doing that.

  18. and he has not mentioned lowering payroll taxes, such as FICA,

    It’s really not clear at all where he is on this. He claimed initially there would be a FICA “doughnut” from 90k to 250k, but then later (after it was pointed out this made it impossible to fund his other programs) he seemed to drop the doughnut.

    Then yesterday, he told a crowd no one making less than 250K would see ANY tax increase — FICA, capital gains, income, etc. He also said the deficit isn’t that important.

    But Congressional Dems probably have their own agenda.

    So I’m guessing we’ll get a tax hike for everyone making more than about $75k, HUGE new spending, and a trillion dollar deficit.

  19. Guy,I know what he means but I was talking about actual income.Before I moved to a single person barber shop,I owned a salon with 15 cutters for about 7 years.Our average gross was 450,000 per year.I made about 41,000 in income a year.I made about the same the first year after moving and work 20 less hours.

  20. Actually, I’ve wondered whether they will install a new tax that they won’t call a tax

    I would imagine so. After all, we’ve already got welfare payments we don’t call welfare.

  21. If your tax cut comes in the form of a refund, it’s welfare.

    Everyone who didn’t change their withholding will be a welfare momma. Sure, that makes sense.

  22. joe,

    If your refund is higher than what you actually paid in taxes that is a form of wealth redistribution. Whether one wants to apply the term “welfare” to that, well, I think that’s beside the point.

  23. Seward,

    “Taxes.” Not “income taxes.” “Taxes.”

    If your refund is higher than what you paid in “taxes” of any sort, it’s welfare.

  24. When I hear his pandering speeches where he says stuff like “We need to put an end to the failed policies of giving to Wall St. and taking from Main St., and focus more on the hard working American,” my initial reaction is to cringe, while I realize he doesn’t actually say anything there that I object to.

    That’s because he doesn’t actually say much of anything, anytime. A genius for semantic nullities delivered in soothing, sonorous tones.

    Anyone think his promise not to raise taxes on anyone making less than 250k will last until Inauguration Day?

    It didn’t even last that long. Biden mentioned $150K as the magic number, and I believe I heard the Big O say $200K on at least one occasion.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if you want to cut taxes, cut the fucking rates. If you want to redistribute wealth, then leave the rates alone (as Obama has) and write checks to some people but not others (as Obama has done).

    But don’t tell me that its a tax cut when taxes haven’t been cut. Sure, at the end of the day, some people’s net net financial relationship with the government changes, but by your logic, every time the government increases Medicare benefits, it gives a tax cut to senior citizens.

  25. Guy,I know what he means but I was talking about actual income.

    He left that open, in the sense that if you have gross reciepts over $250,000 it does not matter what your actual income is, he wants it to give to someone else.

  26. My refund check every year is a government benefit.

    Gotcha.

  27. joe,

    If your refund is higher than what you paid in “taxes” of any sort, it’s welfare.

    Fine, call it welfare. I just call it what all schemes which promise to take from one person and give to another are (via the government) – wealth redistribution.

    R.C. Dean,

    That’s because he doesn’t actually say much of anything, anytime. A genius for semantic nullities delivered in soothing, sonorous tones.

    That would just make him an above average politician. 🙂

  28. Well,since no one seems to know I’ll ask Joe.How many households have a income of 250,000 or more and how much would their taxes need to raise?You seem to always have the answers.

  29. He also said the deficit isn’t that important.

    Wait a minute. Hasn’t that been the primary talking point of Republican administrations and conservative writers (during Republican administrations) since Reagan? Wasn’t it Cheney that said, “You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don’t matter”?

  30. And yet, for assessing the course of his likely presidency, I don’t know him at all. […] At heart, he is an unreconstructed New Dealer who can see, and articulate, both sides on every question–but only as a prelude to championing the old corporatist agenda with a vengeance.

    Sounds like he has a pretty good idea of what Obama’s agenda is.

  31. Michael Pack,

    5% of US households have annual incomes about a quarter mil, and the size of the increase would vary within that cohort based on income.

    That’s an odd cohort to talk about. The very bottom and very top of the other 19 twentieths of the population have incomes that are very close to each other, while the top 5% varies from about $250k per annum up to, literally, ten figures.

  32. Maybe they could ask Obama’s family who he is. You know, the family he abandoned in Third World poverty and public housing, and has told to avoid the press until after the election.

    Seward,

    The Earned Income Credit which offsets FICA for low-income workers is welfare under another name. FICA is supposed to be a social insurance scheme that everyone pays for (as opposed to a progressive tax scheme that “the rich” pay for, like income taxes are). Giving them FICA “refunds” is welfare that politician can disguise as a “tax refund” for those gullible enough to buy the three-card Monte game they’re playing.

    Mo,

    The GOP tried to pass a balanced budget amendment back in the 90s. Dems defeated it by one vote.

  33. Obama better hope that the Chinese want to keep buying up those T-Bills. Because his appetite for new spending is clearly much larger than the available taxes.

  34. Joe,so how much money would this raise?There are no numbers to show the amount,just vague talk about the ‘rich’ and the middle class.If the Dems want people to believe the rich need to pay more they should at least provide the numbers of how much they pay now verse how much they make.

  35. “the family he abandoned” = half brother he spoke to once when he was 5, who grew up on a different continent.

    You drew the B backwards, ToolDave.

  36. Michael Pack, there was a good graphic in the NYT about the implications of Obama’s tax plan for different income levels.

    Good luck.

  37. Obama will probably try to make up revenue shortfalls with carbon taxes or auctioning carbon permits. They will try to keep lower income people’s electric/heating bills the same with subsidies and keep what’s left. Yes this is a ridiculous unnecessary intervention, whether you believe in AGW or not (I don’t). And I voted for him anyway!

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