And the Winner Is... Joe the Plumber
Obama is suggesting that, by taking money from someone such as Joe and spreading it around to people behind him in some metaphoric economic line (through so-called "tax cuts" that are actually refundable tax credits for those who pay no taxes at all), government will be giving them a "chance for success" that they previously lacked.
If I had to encapsulate the most salient difference between Right and Left it would be that the Right is interested in fostering equality of opportunity, while the Left is interested in equality of outcome (no, I'm not the first to think of it). This redistribution of income is described here by Obama as the former, but actually represents an attempt at the latter.
Our country has made vast strides in fostering equality of opportunity, even going so far as to institute affirmative action in an attempt to redress wrongs by giving groups previously discriminated against present advantages in the success sweepstakes. It's not a perfect world, of course, and so there can be no perfect equality of opportunity. But we've come closer and closer to that ideal.
However, people will always differ in their abilities, drive, intelligence, and even their luck. Some will be able to overcome almost any handicap and be successful, while others will start life with every seeming advantage and end up with little. This cannot be changed; it is part of the human condition. Transferring some minor amount of money from one person who has it to another who lacks it may indeed enable the latter to buy a few things -- even perhaps basics such as food -- that he or she lacks. It may enhance his/her life in certain ways, or the life of his/her family. It may go a little way towards equalizing the economic outcome.
But it does not give that person a chance for success that he -- or she -- heretofore lacked, which is what Obama is implying. The only way his tax proposals would do that is if the recipient were to gain enough money from this transfer to enable him to use the extra funds to obtain more education and go to college or a trade school, or to market an invention or start a business (highly unlikely; these things cost too much money). Even then, one might argue that it isn't furthering his chance of success so much as his ability to access the means to success that are already open to all who are motivated and can pay (or can get scholarships or grants).
You may think I'm quibbling over semantics. But I believe that by his seemingly casual words Obama revealed his deep commitment to a philosophy of redistribution of wealth in order to further equality of outcome, and that he either doesn't think equality of opportunity is enough or he believes this country doesn't offer it. Whether we label this kind of thinking socialist or not (and we could argue about that one), it most certainly is typically liberal -- the sort of thing that has earned him the rating of most liberal senator of all.
And I suspect it goes against the thinking of most Americans.
Perhaps that's why 74% of CEOs surveyed by Chief Executive magazine have said they believe that an Obama presidency would be disastrous for the nation, leading to an increase in unemployment.
If they are correct in their prediction, the ironic result of Obama's election to the highest office in the land would be that those who are presumably standing in line behind Joe the Plumber would experience a lowering not of their chance of success but of their actual success.
If so, it wouldn't be the first irony of this election.