Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Victor Davis Hanson on the anecdotal presidency

Victor Davis Hanson is one of the most astute Obama critics out there. In his latest National Review Online, he attacks "the Anecdotal Presidency."
Obama's current trajectory is not sustainable, and yet the president has not proposed spending cuts that would reduce the annual deficits in any meaningful way. Like Louis XIV, the Sun King, he knows that his spending is bankrupting his country and, if unchecked, will destroy generations to follow — and yet he knows even more strongly that he cannot quit. Instead, he fixates on upping the top rates on the 2 percent who currently pay over 40 percent of all federal income-tax revenues; his proposed hikes, however, would add only $80 or $90 billion in additional revenue, or about 8 percent of the aggregate borrowing each year. Additional income might derive from suggested changes in the nature of deductions, and from raises in capital-gains and inheritance taxes, but would supply only a fraction of what is needed to balance the budget.

The president, however, knows that his vast increases in federal spending, which have helped create loyal constituents, at some point must come to an end. (No doubt, Barack Obama will be as critical of "unpatriotic" deficit spending after he leaves office as he was before he entered it.) There simply are not enough "millionaires and billionaires," "fat-cat bankers," "corporate-jet owners," and people who did not know when to quit profiting, or at what point they had made enough money, or that they did not build their own businesses. What then is the point about the obsession with earners in the top brackets –given that more taxes on them will do nothing to stop the fantastic rate of spending and very little to raise enough general revenue to service it? Answer: Obama’s attack on the upper brackets is a resonant talking point, but otherwise a mere political anecdote that has nothing to do with good governance. Raising taxes across the board or vastly cutting spending or both would start to solve the problem, and so, as real options, must go unmentioned.
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