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Speaking of Shared Sacrifice . . .

July 26th, 2011 - 9:02 am

So the president wants “millionaires and billionaires” to “share in the sacrifice everyone else has to make.”  Right.  A couple of points: by “millionaires and billionaires” he means middle-class folks with a family income of $250,000 or above. By “sacrifice everyone else has to make” he means everyone except the 43.4 percent of tax filers who pay no federal income tax — many of whom, in fact, get a check from the government, i.e., from the other 50-odd percent who do pay federal income tax. (Remember this: the government has no money of its own: what money it disperses it gets from individuals and businesses.)

A “sacrifice everyone else has to make.” That sounds nice. What do you suppose it means? And what sacrifice do you suppose the president himself is making?  Here’s an idea: Why doesn’t he figure out how much it actually costs to run the White House and then indulge in a little shared sacrifice  by cutting (say) 20 percent.  And why doesn’t he order his cabinet to make similar “shared sacrifices” in their own departments?

I know, I know: don’t hold your breath on that. But let’s think a bit more about the president’s speech yesterday.  I think Scott Johnson at Powerline has it right when he highlights the large element of euphemism deployed in the speech:

Here are a few of the euphemisms Obama has contributed: revenues (taxes), shared sacrifice (taxes), asking for something (taxes), millionaires and billionaires (taxes on individuals earning more than $200,000 a year or couples earning more than $250,000 a year), the balanced approach (translation: taxes).

As Scott notes, the euphemisms are “almost laughable,” with emphasis on the adverb.

Actually, I think Scott is too generous. What the president’s speech bristled with are not euphemisms, exactly — inoffensive words doing duty for offensive ones — but blatant misrepresentations, which I suppose might be considered a euphemism for “lies.”

One salutary thing to come out of the debate about raising the debt ceiling is that the president’s inner redistributionist has peeked through his usually disconnected persona.  During the 2008 campaign, Obama famously, or infamously, told Joe the Plumber that he wanted to “spread the wealth around,” i.e., take money from person A and give it to person B. He wasn’t usually so candid, though he did make it clear that individual economic success was something he despised. In the infancy of the United States, Chief Justice John Marshall observed that “the power to tax is the power to destroy.”

I used to think that it would be a good idea to acquaint Barack Obama with that saying. The alarming spectacle of his administration lurching from one disaster to the next  makes me suspect that he knows it all too well.  The power to tax is the power to destroy, and there are things he wishes to destroy, above all wealth independent of the state.  One other observation from Chief Justice Marshall: “Indeed, in a free government almost all other rights would become worthless if the government possessed power over the private fortune of every citizen.” Keep it in mind as you ponder the rhetoric of our masters in Washington.

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