Commentary Magazine


Flotsam and Jetsam

How can we soak the rich if they are already being soaked? Gregory Mankiw explains: “In 2005, the most recent year for which numbers are available, a household in the bottom quintile paid 4.3 percent of its income in federal taxes and one in the second-lowest quintile paid 9.9 percent. A household in the top 1 percent of income distribution paid 31.2 percent of its income in taxes.”

Robert J. Samuelson: “Obama is a great pretender. He repeatedly says he’s doing things that he isn’t, trusting his powerful rhetoric to obscure the difference. He has made ‘responsibility’ a personal theme; the budget’s cover line is ‘A New Era of Responsibility.’ He says the budget begins ‘making the tough choices necessary to restore fiscal discipline.’ It doesn’t.”

On Chas Freeman, Jack Kelly wonders whether “the Freeman nomination may be a more accurate reflection of the president’s innermost feelings than the assurances he gave to Mr. [Marty] Peretz and Mr. [Jeffrey] Goldberg during the campaign.” Let’s hope it’s just a sign of utterly imcompetent vetting. Although the longer the administration hangs on the harder it is to claim this is some terrible “mistake.”

Once again, according to Rasmussen, “Investor confidence has fallen to a new all-time low as expectations of future economic performance continue to decline.”

Obama doesn’t embrace Eric Holder’s “cowards” remark on race.

Newt Gingrich on the reaction of business people and investors to the Obama administration: “I would suggest that the Obama tax increases, both the energy tax increase in his budget and the war against everybody earning over $250,000 are, in some ways, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of this cycle.  You have a vice president who says, ‘Put them in the brig,’ that’s a direct quote, talking about CEOs.  You have a senator from Missouri who describes them as ‘idiots,’ OK.  Now, let’s say you have money.  Let’s say you’re successful and you look at this administration.  Do you really want to risk your money?  Or do you want to, in fact, put it in a mattress?”

And Gingrich again on the budget: “This is a radical budget.  This budget has a $1300 per family tax increase for energy, which means electricity, it means heating oil, it means gasoline.  That will be massively unpopular.  And then to try to do that in the middle of a recession–they haven’t decided if their number one job is get economic growth, or their number one job is redistribute America.”

Lindsay Graham echoes a similar theme: “The budget is a radical, reckless exercise that’s scaring the hell out of everybody who is watching this country’s financial situation.  It triples the national publicly-held debt between now and 2019.  It has an assumption that we’re going to grow next year at 3.2 percent GDP when we’re not.  So this whole idea of these policies have one thing in common:  just print more money.  I think the president has quite frankly, in his budget, told us a lot about who he is and what he believes, and it’s scary.”

Bill Kristol is equally disdainful: “There’s a reality out there in the world and in the economy and in the country, and the idea that the president and his chief of staff and their defenders are obsessing about polls is really pathetic.”

That White House summit turned out to be remarkably ineffective even as a staged display of unity. Two unions have already bugged out of the healthcare coalition.

Cat’s out of the bag: the anti-secret ballot forces don’t have enough votes to pass card check legislation in the Senate. This is a perfect storm for Republicans: not enough votes to pass atrocious legislation but Democrats talking about it and making life difficult for Red state senators. And, as Mickey Kaus points out, it just makes Big Labor look like a paper tiger.

How happy do you think Virginia Republicans will view a headline in the Washington Post announcing unions’ attempt to buy clout in a right-to-work state?