PJ Media

Obama's Redistributionist Obsession

Even by Internet speed standards, the reaction to the YouTube posting of a 2001 radio interview of Barack Obama on Chicago public radio station WBEZ has been fast and furious.

Based on when the first comment appeared, the YouTube post went up at about 8 p.m. Eastern Time Sunday. Within hours, it was the lead item at Drudge. As of 6 a.m. ET on Monday, the original post had over 2,500 comments. Proving that the Internet never sleeps, dozens of center-right blogs were on it before sunrise.

This is, and should be, a big, big deal, because it leaves Obama nowhere to hide. He clearly exposes himself as a far-left socialist who believes that income and wealth redistribution should have been an integral element of the 1960s civil rights movement.

Here’s a full transcript, following the show host’s routine introduction:

Obama: You know, if you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the courts, I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples — so that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at a lunch counter and order, and as long as I was able to pay for it I’d be OK. But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society.

And to that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, at least as it’s been interpreted, and the Warren Court interpreted it in the same way that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. It says what the states can’t do to you, says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf. And that hasn’t shifted. And one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, because the civil rights movement became so court-focused, I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which to bring about redistributive change. And in some ways we still suffer from that. …

Karen (Caller): The gentleman made the point that the Warren Court wasn’t terribly radical with economic changes. My question is it too late for that kind of reparative work economically, and is that the appropriate place for reparative economic work to take place?

Host: You mean the courts?

Karen: The courts, or would it be legislation at this point?

Obama: Maybe I’m showing my bias here as a legislator as well as a law professor, but I’m not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. Y’know, the institution just isn’t structured that way.

You look at very rare examples where during the desegregation era where the court, for example, was willing to, for example, order changes that cost money to local school districts, and the court was very uncomfortable with it. It was hard to manage, it was hard to figure out. You start getting into all sorts of separation of powers issues, y’know, in terms of the court monitoring or engaging in a process that essentially is administrative and takes a lot of time.

The court’s just not very good at it, and politically it’s very hard to legitimize opinions from the court in that regard. So, I mean, I think that although you can craft theoretical justifications for it legally, y’know I think any three of us sitting here could come up with a rationale for bringing about economic change through the courts.

This is astounding stuff from a man who is one election away from the presidency. In politer tones, he is saying things that would make his mentors — Jeremiah Wright, Michael Pfleger, and William Ayers, not necessarily in that order — proud as peacocks. Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez are probably beaming too.

Especially when bookended with his recent “spread the wealth around” comment to Joe the Plumber, Obama’s statements reveal a man who:

  • Looks at the Constitution as a real impediment to “justice.” Oh if we could just “break free” from those gosh-darned “essential constraints.”
  • By characterizing them as “more basic,” proves that he sees “political and economic justice” as more important than the fundamental human rights built into the Constitution. I wonder who gets to define “justice,” or who gets to decide what “necessary compromises” to basic rights have to be made to achieve that “justice”? Is ACORN’s election cheating justified because the so-called “justice” it is working to achieve is more important than playing by the rules?
  • Who is obsessed with “redistributive change.”

In fact, I suggest henceforth that every time readers hear the word “change” from Team Obama, they insert the work “redistributive” in front of it.

The Obama campaign’s key economic ideas revolve around income and wealth redistribution:

  • They plan to let the Bush tax cuts expire — but (supposedly) only for those making $250,000 or more per year. Joe Biden, in his famously botched interview with WFTV’s Barbara West, characterized keeping the tax system that we’ve gotten used to for the past six years as giving hundreds of billions of dollars in breaks to the wealthy (he should have said “high earners,” but you shouldn’t expect too much from a guy who thinks the word “jobs” has three letters). No, Joe, it’s simply continuing what’s been in place.
  • The accompanying plan to give “tax cuts” to 95% of Americans while taxing the daylights out of the top 5%. The problem, unless you’re fixated on “redistributive change,” is that over 30% of Americans pay no federal income tax. The labyrinth of credits and other behavior-changing inducements Team Obama is offering will cause the IRS to write millions of checks to non-poor people who never paid in a dime of tax, and millions more to people who had to pay in very little. These aren’t “tax cuts.” They’re government handouts.
  • Their plan to impose the Social Security payroll tax on those earning $250,000 a year or more — without any provision to increase their benefits.

And there’s this little idea being bandied about by advisers and other Obama acolytes both in and out of Congress to end 401(k) plans as we know them. Some of their ideas include:

  • Ending the tax deductibility of employee 401(k) contributions.
  • Current-year taxation of investment earnings.
  • A carrot-stick government takeover of what has been a privately run system — “all workers would receive a $600 annual inflation-adjusted subsidy from the U.S. government but would be required to invest five percent of their pay into a guaranteed retirement account administered by the Social Security Administration. The money in turn would be invested in special government bonds that would pay three percent a year, adjusted for inflation.”

If you’re a 401(k) plan participant, you have real investments, in a real account, under your control. Does anyone really believe that the “guaranteed” government-run accounts under consideration will have those characteristics?

In the real world, the entire rationale for establishing or retaining 401(k) plans, and more than likely IRAs as well, would be eliminated. The plans would disappear. I suggest that this is the goal.

Many readers may be thinking that the creators of the current POR Economy (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) wouldn’t dare try to pull off what would amount to a multitrillion-dollar transfer of wealth to the government.

Really? Go to this YouTube video (starting at the 0:45 mark) of Obama mentor Father Michael Pfleger and watch him, at his animated, white guilt-addled worst, tell the audience at Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ that (bold is mine):

I promised … to address the one (white person) who says, “Don’t hold me responsible for what my ancestors did.”

But you have enjoyed the benefits of what your ancestors did. And unless your are ready to give up the benefits, throw away your 401 fund, throw away your trust fund, throw away the money you put away, and the company you walked into because your daddy, and your granddaddy, and your great-granddaddy … unless you’re willing to give up the benefits, then you must be responsible for what was done in your generation, because you are the beneficiary of this insurance policy!

Pfleger does have one thing right: If we gave our investments up to the government, we would indeed be “throwing them away.”

No wonder Team Obama is pushing the travesty known as “early voting” so hard. They’re praying that as many Obama voters as possible will cast their ballots without learning the true nature of the person they are supporting.

The final full week of this presidential election campaign has come down to whether or not enough voters, the vast majority of whom overwhelmingly reject the idea of income and wealth distribution, will learn the truth about the self-styled agent of (redistributive) change.