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Works and Days

Liberal Math

December 6th, 2010 - 12:40 pm

I grew up in a Democratic household. The talk at the family dinner table in the early sixties, to the degree it touched on politics, concerned the minimum wage, 40-hour work week, overtime pay, civil rights, disability insurance, or bond money for school construction and teacher training. In other words, it was a sort of “level the playing field” to ensure equality of opportunity.

I don’t recall discussions about the evils of American foreign policy, racial quotas, drug legalization, open borders and amnesty, the need for gay marriage, or abortion on demand. I do remember the national spokesmen whom we were supposed to admire — Pat Brown, Harry Truman, Hubert Humphrey — did not look or act like John Edwards or John Kerry.

Now one can argue that the seeds of the present Democratic desire for an imposed equality of result, embraced by a Howard Dean or Nancy Pelosi, is but the logical evolution from the old Democratic square deal. But there is a difference as well. In those days, except for the Kennedys, liberalism was not synonymous with big money and the desire for the elite lifestyle. These days it is and it makes it hard for liberals to square their abstraction with reality. Very wealthy people seek to be exempt from the regulations and taxes they impose on the middle classes on behalf of the poor they studiously avoid. I thought of all that when reviewing some of this week’s news.

Clay Feet

Item: John Kerry was extolling the stimulus effects of unemployment benefits, as in more money returns to the economy for each dollar paid out to the unemployed. If so, why not simply put us all on unemployment benefits and watch the economy grow?

Or perhaps Kerry could advocate a national boat sales tax to collect the sort of revenue that he so carefully had tried to avoid. Or perhaps he might look carefully at zillionaire family trusts and the billions they divert from the strapped federal Treasury. Or perhaps he could take away the tax deductions on third or fourth homes above a certain square footage, maybe ending the deduction for property taxes on multiple homes?

My point? Why do Democrats always go after the orthodontist, electrical contractor, or insurance agency owner, and never the Buffetts, Kerrys, or Gateses? Bill Gates and Warren Buffett will defer more money from the federal Treasury by avoiding inheritance taxes (to channel their profits into their foundations) than all the billions lost this year by keeping tax cuts for small businesses.

Item: Hillary Clinton, a multimillionaire, given her past lucrative books deals and sales, and her husband’s near $100 million in honoraria after a near decade of speaking fees, is now hawking signed DVDs of her convention speech in 2008. Apparently she hopes to pay off her sizable campaign debts that still exceed $9 million.

Questions arise: the Clintons this summer were just negotiating to buy a $11 million Westchester County mansion, despite owning luxurious homes in Washington and New York. (Chelsea’s wedding looked like the opening scene of The Godfather.) Cannot the Clintons defer purchase of such upscale estates until they pay what they owe, since the cost of the estate and the debt owed are about equal?  (I think Harry Truman would have said, “I pay what I owe and I don’t need a mansion.”) Nearly half the total of the campaign debt is also owed to her friend, the liberal pollster Mark Penn. Cannot he let some of his old debts be done with, especially since his poor advice and performance helped sink her campaign? Is it proper for a sitting secretary of State to hawk DVDs while in office? Given the hundreds of millions raised by liberals in 2008 — given that Obama was the only general election candidate in public campaign financing history to reject public funds and their limitations — cannot left0wing philanthropists cover Hillary’s debt if she is unwilling to give up her Westchester mansion?

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