PJ Media

The Anti-Reagan

Recently, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, assumed a stance behind the microphone, and proceeded to excoriate House Democrats by utilizing a well-known yet little used piece of legislative lingo — he quoted Led Zeppelin. He explained that House Democrats made him think of the band, for with the Democrats, “the song remains the same.” McCotter went on to fully explain why Democrats are neither inventive nor inspiring — watch it for yourself, and wonder (like many are behind closed doors) where McCotter is in the growing GOP field.

It is rare to see wit and wisdom, intellect and individualism, candor and cunning, and a solid amount of connection with the American people. We last saw it in totality with President Ronald Reagan. George Bush had folksy charm down, and Bill Clinton had (has) a level of smooth and political polish that is hard to deny. But Reagan did it all. You knew he knew the facts, you knew that he could lap his opposition on the intellectual race track, and you knew that America was inspired by his being, his actions, and his heart.

How completely awkward and politically tone deaf is President Obama’s attempt since the massive GOP victories of 2010 to compare himself to Reagan! It was on his vacation during Christmas break of 2010 (as opposed to all the others) that he took a copy of Reagan’s biography with him to Hawaii. Google the words “Obama Compares”: the first match that comes up is “himself to Reagan.” He referred to himself as “The Gipper,” and Time magazine had the two on the cover.

I have long accused this administration of being politically tone deaf: the strength exhibited in Obama’s presidential run is nowhere to be found in his running of government. He campaigns with poetry, he flounders and fails with remarkable frequency in prose. And in his most recent speech regarding the budget, Obama showed that he is — in every way — the opposite of Reagan, and showed why he is so dangerous for America.

While a full study of the text of Obama’s budget speech can show multiple stark differences between Reagan and Obama, the overall tone and sentiment of the speech best explains the difference between freedom and bondage. Obama’s speech certainly did not inspire. It was not about the budget, deficits, or what he has personally done to exacerbate what ails America. As Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) pointed out, this was not the commander-in-chief, but the campaigner-in-chief. Obama took this moment to attack Republicans, mock those who want cuts in programs, blame Bush, and Eat The Rich.

Obama’s speech demonstrated his belief that government makes all things possible. He stated (emphasis mine):

Part of this American belief that we are all connected also expresses itself in a conviction that each one of us deserves some basic measure of security. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, hard times or bad luck, a crippling illness or a layoff, may strike any one of us. “There but for the grace of God go I,” we say to ourselves, and so we contribute to programs like Medicare and Social Security, which guarantee us health care and a measure of basic income after a lifetime of hard work; unemployment insurance, which protects us against unexpected job loss; and Medicaid, which provides care for millions of seniors in nursing homes, poor children, and those with disabilities. We are a better country because of these commitments. I’ll go further — we would not be a great country without those commitments.

How grating to hear that our greatness as a nation is not our people. It’s not the Bill of Rights or the Constitution as a whole. It’s not that we are a republic, not a democracy.  It is not: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (Obama won’t recognize that “endowed by their Creator” is even in the Declaration.)

Rather, as Obama and the progressives foolishly believe, our greatness is based on entitlement programs that are going bankrupt!

In the very next paragraph, Obama stated:

For much of the last century, our nation found a way to afford these investments and priorities with the taxes paid by its citizens. As a country that values fairness, wealthier individuals have traditionally borne a greater share of this burden than the middle class or those less fortunate. This is not because we begrudge those who’ve done well — we rightly celebrate their success. Rather, it is a basic reflection of our belief that those who have benefited most from our way of life can afford to give a bit more back.

As Roger Kimball of PJM wrote the day before the speech: “Expect the ‘Rich’ to be asked to ‘pay their fair share.’”

The “fair share” meme has proven itself to be code for wealth redistribution. The “fair share” meme is also a lie. The use of the term would make one think that all people pay something, for how else could two people pay a “fair share” if one person pays something and the other person pays nothing? Nearly 50% of Americans (in 2009) do not pay federal income taxes. Not everyone is sharing, and nothing about that is fair.

Obama’s comments are not just incendiary, and not just political pandering: they show a complete lack of understanding for the American way of life, and a total contempt for capitalism, free markets, and free people.

Obama thinks that wealthier individuals should pay more because they “benefited most from our way of life.” It is impossible for one person to benefit more from capitalism than another. Capitalism is, and should be, the most ultimate of level playing fields. Everyone has the same rules, laws, and parameters. From there, the individual becomes important. One person has a better idea than another person; that excites the markets and leads to a better financial reward. Another person makes a mistake in their marketing plan and loses money. Yet another may have no desire to engage in wealth, and will just be happy to work for another at a wage commensurate with the job in question — a job that is available if the entrepreneur who has the ability to adapt and thrive and grow a business is not brutally taxed for doing so.

Wealthier individuals do not benefit more from our way of life. They work hard to achieve their success. The system allowed only for opportunity, which is the brilliance of the system … which is denied to no one! The successful have, in the main, worked hard. They have sacrificed, they have faltered. And, as any entrepreneur will tell you, they got up, dusted themselves off, and tried again. Everyone in America can benefit from our way of life, and the majority do. Not everyone will garner huge financial success, but capitalism can not ensure the equality of outcomes. Socialists have been trying to offer the lie of “equality of outcomes” as a solution for years. It never works. It is a lie, and statists, like President Obama, have been trying to sell that line of bunk since the days of Marx.

Reagan did not believe that government was here to save you. One of his more famous lines from his 1981 inaugural address: “In this present crisis government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.” It was a clear recognition that government’s job is not to save you from yourself; it’s to enforce contracts, fix roads, and defend the republic from invasion!

In January of 2009, hard-core progressives drew the distinction between Reagan and Obama. The leftist online publication Crooks and Liars ran a piece comparing and contrasting the two visions. In it, they excoriated Reagan’s “anti-government view,” saying that it caused “fear and anger” amongst the people, trying to turn them against government.

Obama, they said, “is right on” in insisting that only government could “break the vicious cycles that are crippling our economy,” prevent “the catastrophic failure of financial institutions,” restart the flow of credit, and restore the regulations needed to prevent such a crisis in the future.

It has been over two years since Obama took office. He and his administration have not broken the “vicious cycles that are crippling our economy.” They have made the economy worse and have exacerbated the debt. They did not “restart the flow of credit” to anyone who wasn’t a bank already working with the Fed on the highest levels. As for regulations, they have brought us ObamaCare — whose regulations have required over 1000 companies to get waivers allowing them to disregard the regulations needed to “prevent such a crisis in the future.”

Obama is the Anti-Reagan. Reagan is about individuals, personal responsibility, and self-reliance. Reagan is about understanding the proper role of government, and that the fruits of the labor of the individual, however large or small, are not the domain of any government. When Reagan said government is the problem, he wasn’t advocating for getting rid of government. He was highlighting for those who had been lied to for so many years that being part of the dependency class is antithetical to the American experience and the American way of life.

Obama is about government, and believes to his core that no good can be created by man that does not have its genesis in government. His own words show a disdain for individualism: the only time in his deficit speech he showed any real emotion was when he talked about defending failed programs from cuts. Obama believes that government will solve our problems. He believes that those who prosper in America have done so by happenstance, not hard work. That fair share means what he sees fit as the rightful tribute tax. That each American “deserves” a sense of security, but doesn’t have to work to achieve that security. That our job is to do for others regardless of whether or not they do for themselves. The same story is told by statists year after year after year.

Rep. McCotter was right.