Beating the drums of class warfare

PHOTO: \'Eat the Rich\' carved in steel

McCain and Palin have recently added a new smear to their regular roster of attacks on Obama. They say that Obama is a socialist because he wants to “spread the wealth” and would seek to do that through small changes in our tax code.


First a little background. Our Republican led government has just given $25 billion to the auto industry and crazier still they have marked more than $750 billion to buy large stakes and thus prop up our ailing national financial institutions. McCain, for his part, would like to spend $100s of billions more to buy up all the troubled mortgages in America (a move that conservative Daniel Larison labels “a redistribution of our wealth to financial institutions”).

Obama, meanwhile, wants to raise taxes a few percent on people and businesses making more than $250k a year, and cut taxes for a large percentage of the people making less than $250k.

So what sounds more socialist to you, using piles and piles of tax dollars to buy our country’s banks and citizens’ homes or taxing the rich at a higher rate?

Politically, the situation seems even clearer to me. Attacking for Obama for wanting to spread the wealth is a strategy for failure. I’m willing to bet that most Americans, who – by all accounts – make far less than $250k a year and are falling on tough economic times, would like to see the wealth spread around a little. And they probably won’t lose sleep over millionaires having to pay a few percent more per year in taxes.

For more on this topic, I’d suggest reading the always excellent Daniel Larison and Paul Krugman.

Here’s a taste of Larison’s post:

This is something that I didn’t elaborate on last night, but the idea that the message of Spread The Wealth would be a political loser at the present time is bizarre, which makes McCain’s insistence on identifying Obama as the “spread the wealth” candidate even more bizarre.  I mean, does McCain want to get crushed in a landslide?  Let’s think about this.  There is an economic downturn coming on the heels of an era of wage stagnation and growing economic inequality, the financial sector has imploded thanks to the combined blunders of government and holders of concentrated wealth and Obama’s use of a phrase that on its own could easily be mistaken for an expression of neo-Harringtonian distributism is supposed to be politically radioactive?  Consolidation of power, concentration of wealth and centralism all stand condemned for having created the present fiasco, and there is supposed to be a political downside to talking about distributing wealth?

And Krugman’s:

Mr. McCain claims that Mr. Obama’s policies would lead to economic disaster. But President Bush’s policies have already led to disaster — and whatever he may say, Mr. McCain proposes continuing Mr. Bush’s policies in all essential respects, and he shares Mr. Bush’s anti-government, anti-regulation philosophy.

Flickr photo by Niemster

One Comment

  1. Ian

    Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. It was socialist policies set in place by Roosevelt that helped us through the Great Depression. Still, Obama’s tax plan isn’t socialist, unless you think a progressive tax is socialist. If you do, well, sorry to break it to you, but we’ve been socialist for a long time. Obama’s plan just shifts the balance of the tax burden more towards the wealthy. The way I see it, in general the wealthy get wealthy off of the non-wealthy. They don’t need to worry, the money will eventually trickle up.

    I think it really is just McCain trying to further demonize Obama. First he’s a terrorist, now he’s a socialist. I repeat, go vote early! Put an end to this nonsense.