Spread the wealth around, Trojans.
Much of the country has been buzzing recently about a certain Joe the Plumber.
In case youve been quarantined from news consumption for the last two weeks, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher is an Ohio plumber who asked Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama what would happen if Joe wanted to buy the plumbing business for which he has worked all these years.
Would Obama really tax Joe more for realizing the American dream?
Obama, of course, said yes. In his roundabout explanation of his views, Obama also used the worst possible phrase, telling the ambitious plumber to spread the wealth around.
This debate has ignited new enthusiasm in Republican nominee Sen. John McCains campaign, and Obama has been accused of sounding like a socialist. Contrary to what your professors might preach, this is indeed a naughty word in American politics.
The problem with promising to spreading the wealth around is that we already do. The top 50 percent of wage earners in America pay a remarkable 97 percent of the tax burden. Obamas tax plan wants to find the people who pay the most taxes, force them to pay more taxes and run this money through the government bureaucracy to cut checks for people who dont pay taxes.
He does this by offering what is called a refundable tax credit. This means that if the tax credit is $1,000 and the person only pays $200 in taxes, they get an $800 check. Sounds like welfare to me.
What about the average voter on this campus, Joe the Trojan? Or Jos or Jessica or whoever. Forgive the racial and gender connotations of the name Joe, for a moment, just to keep it simple.
Joe the Trojan might not aspire to be a plumber, but if he wants a job, wants to own a business or wants to invest alongside 100 million other Americans in this country, he has a right to be concerned with Obamas economic populism.
This idea survives on the belief that a campaign can be won by uniting at least 51 percent of the electorate against those who are better off. Both parties are guilty of this in some form. Conservative-leaning columnist Dick Morris recently observed that Democrats employ (no pun intended) economic populism, while Republican culture warriors use social populism as a political tool.
The problem is, if the government punishes the 49 percent who are purportedly better off, by, for example, raising corporate tax rates the net effect hurts the consumer and entry-level employees.
Businesses forced to pay higher taxes rarely pay those taxes themselves but instead just pass the additional cost on to the consumer. Its just like this summer, when airlines and grocery stores compensated for higher gas prices by tacking them onto the price charged to the consumer. When, at a certain tipping point, the economics become too unprofitable, the business then has to either fire Joe the Employee or close up shop.
In this scenario, everyone loses. Especially given our current economic climate, this is no time to scare away investors or discourage business ownership.
A few Democrat friends of mine confessed to me recently that they really didnt see what was wrong with a little more redistribution of wealth. One said that, as a Christian, I should feel obligated to help out those less fortunate.
This argument fails in two ways. First, individuals are always capable of and encouraged to donate to private charities to help with any specific or non-specific need in America or around the world. Americans are some of the most generous people in the world, sending in millions of dollars to support hurricane relief efforts, funding the fight against cancer and sending cre packages around the world.
If a citizen wants to pay more taxes, Im sure the U.S.Treasury would accept the check.
Second, where does it end? If we let politicians Democrats or Republicans continue to cherry-pick who has too much money and who doesnt have enough, the incentive to take a risk, open a business and pursue the American Dream will be increasingly undermined.
The federal governments role is to facilitate the creation of new wealth, not steal exponentially more from those who do well.
Its not that Barack Obama doesnt care. Its that he just doesnt get it.