Ed Driscoll

The Zabar's Zeitgeist is in the New Feudalism State of Mind

Back in 2004, author/talk radio host Michael Graham sagely cautioned, “Don’t assume you know who’s on the Democratic ticket until Election Day.” But assuming Democrats don’t pull a Torricelli Gambit, and replace Obama with Hillary, it seems safe to say that whatever else happens next November, Obama will still easily carry New York; the Zabar’s Zeitgeist simply doesn’t allow for voting for a president with an (R) after his name.

But New York politicians certainly aren’t crazy about Obama’s actual policies. Oh sure, they’re fine for an out of town road show performance, but they just don’t play on Broadway. Back in March, before he became the world’s best-known NC-17 Twitter performing artist, former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was asking for Manhattan as a whole to be waivered out of ObamaCare:

“The president said, ‘If you have better ideas that can accomplish the same thing, go for it,’” said Weiner. “I’m in the process now of trying to see if we can take [President Barack Obama] up on it in the city of New York, … and I’m taking a look at all of the money we spend in Medicaid and Medicare and maybe New York City can come up with a better plan.”…

The congressman was trying to debunk Republican “myths” about the health care law during a speech at the Center for American Progress. He used the waivers as way to describe how flexible the law actually is and how “this notion that the government is shoving the bill down people’s throats” is not true.

“The administration needs to make this argument more forcefully,” he said. “A lot of people who got waivers were … people who are our friends.”

And this week, as Andrew Stiles paraphrases at National Review’s Corner, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says “Tax the Rich, Just Not My Rich:”

“$250,000 makes you really rich in Mississippi but it doesn’t make you rich at all in New York and there ought to be some kind of scale based on the cost of living on how much you pay,” Schumer said.

To which Ed Morrissey responds:

Actually, no.  There should be a sense of cost of living in state policies that ease the kind of distortion one sees in New York City, but income taxes shouldn’t be indexed to cost-of-living indicators at all.  If the $250K limit doesn’t work for Schumer’s constituents, then he should seek to change it or oppose the bill, but not tell Mississippians that those earning the same amount of taxable income as Schumer’s constituents should pay a higher federal income tax rate than New Yorkers.  Schumer’s position is hypocritical on its face, and his suggested solution would almost certainly violate Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.

If the fallout from Obama’s deficit proposal sounds similar to the fallout from his jobs bill, it’s because the White House failed to do the kind of political grunt work necessary up front to develop a united front.  The West Wing is winging it, and in their haste to make Republicans look like extremists, they have instead exposed themselves as significantly out of touch with the American people — and their own party as well.

Which is yet another reminder that we’ve gone past the Road to Serfdom, and are now deep down the path to the New Feudalism: crony deals, exclusions, waivers, etc.:

This lens of a new feudalism gives me a new understanding of what is going on with Obama’s waivers on health care for all his bestest baronial buddies and Obama’s very special waiver for very, very powerful baron GE as regards global warming rules.

Reason puts the feudal system (personal favor-banking and influence peddling) as the opposite of a “republican” system, a system of laws not barons, where everyone stands equal under the law — everyone subject to the punitive compulsions of law and no afforded special monarchial dispensation from the law.

In that context, I’m wondering at what point a system of waivers becomes actually unconstitutional — because anyone not granted a waiver is being burdened by a restrictive and possibly punitive law that others aren’t. Isn’t he?

That is, there is no difference, effectively, between saying “All people are subject to 80% taxation rates, but a special category of Friends of Obama shall be waived from this general rule and only pay 35%” or directly making a law of specific persons (all conservatives) who will have to pay taxes at the 80% rate. The latter would be a clearly illegal, punitive law — but the former would be allowed (or is being allowed now, at least) while accomplishing the exact same goal, penalizing some while privileging others.

A system of waivers from the basic law is no different than a system of legal burdens being legislated against specific named persons.

It’s feudal. It’s unconstitutional. It’s bad law and bad policy, and it’s time for the special Friends of Obama star chamber to be dismantled.

And the administration’s latest promise to close Gitmo will certainly appeal to his far left base, but please, whatever you do, New Yorkers will cry, don’t try terrorists such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in our backyard.