Guest Commentary

Obama gives intellectually dishonest speech

President Barack Obama’s recent speech from George Washington University on the federal debt and deficit was shocking in its intellectual dishonesty, even by Obama standards. Given, the whole idea of Mr. Obama speaking on this topic was akin to Jeff Skilling giving a lecture on business ethics. And yet it still amazed me.

Much of his speech was terribly predictable. How does the President propose we lower the deficit? Raise taxes on the “millionaires and billionaires.” The only problem is, regardless of how much Mr. Obama soaks “the rich”, it could never pay for the spending he has proposed in his first two budgets since taking office. In the entire history of the United States, the federal government has never collected more than of 20 percent of GDP in taxes. Throughout the 1950s and 1970s, the top marginal income tax rate was in the 90 percent range. We still didn’t collect more than 20 percent of GDP in taxes.

Fast forward to Mr. Obama’s proposed 2012 budget; the President proposes outlays of roughly 23 percent of GDP for the next 10 years, and that’s not even the worst part. These percentages are based on a GDP denominator that grows around 6 percent annually — an assumption that has no basis in reality. This means that Mr. Obama’s proposed outlays will be in excess of 23 percent of GDP. He and I both know that this nation will never reduce our national debt by spending over 23 percent of GDP and bringing in 20 percent or less. But he continues to nod and wink at you, telling you that he will “make hard decisions” and ensure that government “lives within its means.”

Unfortunately, the most disturbing portion of the speech was yet to come. Obama went on to suggest that we eliminate many income tax credits and deductions. I’m all for this; credits and deductions skew economic incentives and artificially inflate the value of certain goods and services relative to others. Even Mr. Obama’s bipartisan deficit commission, whose recommendations he otherwise completely ignored, suggested this be done. The President’s justification for doing so was the troubling part. He referred to the elimination of these deductions as “spending reductions in the tax code.”

Aside from the semantic absurdity of the phrase itself, the logical conclusion of his reasoning is startling. To Mr. Obama, the income of every American belongs to the government before it is even taken from you. In other words, the entirety of earned income in the United States belongs to the government and therefore allowing you to keep more of your own earned income is no different than giving your money away to someone who did not earn it.

There is a bizarre conceit among progressives that a person has a right to everyone else’s income but not to their own. Thus, Mr. Obama can claim that by taxing some taxpayers less, we are somehow “redistributing income,” as if it was taken from one individual and given to another. In the President’s mind, your income never belonged to you anyhow. It belonged to the government, and he allowed it to be “distributed” to you.

President Obama’s argument, and the purposeful lack of clarity surrounding his rhetoric, should shake any American who has even a semblance of respect for individual liberty to the core.


  • “In the President’s mind, your income never belonged to you anyhow. It belonged to the government, and he allowed it to be “distributed” to you.”

    That’s about right. The government essentially prints money, causing a debt (since the 2008 bailouts, around $30-40 trillion dollars has been created, in addition to preexisting debts) which must be paid back. How would debts be paid back if not by taxation?

    Most rich people got rich by positioning themselves (whether they know it or not, directly or indirectly) to catch the printed money. So it’s time to recover that, and hope the rich people did something useful with it in the meantime.

  • If you can't intuitively understand how printing more money devalues pre-existing money, then I'm not sure there's anything left to say.

    • lol! How about you take a look 5 posts above. Sorry it went over your head. Clearly, you possess both a stunning intellect and wide-range of knowledge.

  • so, care to source those numbers?

    i never said the government should get the money. just that billionaires have no ethical right to control such an immense portion of the country's (and therefore the world's) wealth and that their control of such wealth is a cancer.

    go back and read my post because i explicitly said that i only support seizing the assets of billionaires.

    lmao most billionaires were born dirt poor and rose up through the ranks due to their steely-eyed determination. the only explanations for this kind of retarded line is that you are a bootlicker, a billionaire yourself, or a person who genuinely believes that one day, if he works hard enough, he will join the ruling class.

  • This logic always confuses me. The failure of the free market cannot be shown by the stupidity of government intervention.

    "It was the government that used our tax money, obtained under the threat of force, to protect the financial hucksters from the repercussions of their fraud and stupidity with the bailouts."

    The free market would have punished these fraudsters for their uselessness. Instead the government used its power to take from the rest of us to protect these people from the consequences of their stupidity.. Now you want to give the government more power?

  • It is always frustrating to see someone come close to making a valid and strong point and then completely whiffing.

    Everyone pays the implicit tax associated with inflation and currency devaluation, and there is some argument that it actually falls more squarely on those with more cash and/or assets. Also, seeing as how inflation and devaluation are products of our fiat currency and macro manipulation by the federal reserve and govt., I don't see how you think this observation would put much crimp in Steven's worldview.

    What you meant to point out, I am sure, is the regressiveness of sales taxes, property taxes, and the many other taxes and fees that everyone pays and that make up a significant portion of government revenue in this country.

  • Oh dear, now Steven's got another alias. That's…in character somehow for a delusional troll like yourself.

    If only Steven were able to walk himself to a logical conclusion from his first statement instead of swerving off on little discursive attention-seeking tangents, I wouldn't have to knock his delusional train of thought back on track.

    See if you can figure it out.

    • I gave you ample opportunities to explain how anything I said was even remotely incoherent or inconsistent. The best you could do is call me a "troll." Bravo

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