Lincoln * Institute

Ralph R. Reiland

Ralph R. Reiland

The B. Kenneth Simon Professor of Free Enterprise at Robert Morris University

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Reflections

King of Hope Falls Flat at Starting Gate

by Ralph R. Reiland
 

"Well, That Certainly Didn't Take Long" was the headline one of Maureen Dowd's recent columns in The New York Times.

Dowd, unswervingly a Bush-basher and pro-Obama over the past two years, was referring to Obama's success in knocking himself off his elevated pedestal within two weeks of his inauguration.

Obama and his "arrogant attitude" went "SPLAT" (caps in Dowd's original) after a "cascade of appointments who 'forgot' to pay taxes" and the development of a "helter-skelter stimulus package."

A Rasmussen Reports survey on Feb. 2 found that only 37 percent of Americans favor the administration-endorsed stimulus package. In a Gallup survey completed on Feb. 1, Obama's approval rating is 64 percent, down 19 points since his inauguration. Six more weeks of the same and he'll be at zero.

Simply put, the King of Hope became the Emperor with No Clothes even before the magazine covers celebrating his inauguration were off the shelves at Borders and Barnes Noble.

On taxes, Democrat vice presidential candidate Joe Biden told "the rich" during the campaign that paying more in taxes and keeping less of their earnings was the patriotic thing to do. "It's time to be patriotic," he instructed, "time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut."

Playing class warrior, Biden enthusiastically promoted Obama's proposal to increase taxes on America's upper-income households for the purposes of income leveling and redistributive justice. "We want to take money and put it back in the pocket of middle-class people," Biden proclaimed.

Unmentioned, of course, was the fact that the top 1 percent of income earners in the United States already are paying more in federal income taxes than the total amount paid by the entire bottom 95 percent of income earners. What mattered was the whipping up of votes by way of maximizing class envy and promoting attitudes of victimization and entitlement.

As it turned out, Tom Daschle, Obama's pick to be White House "health czar" and Health and Human Services secretary, somehow missed the chance to "jump in," missed the shot at being "part of the deal" to get "America out of the rut," and overlooked paying more than $128,000 in taxes on some $300,000 in income during 2005, 2006 and 2007, including taxes on the free use of a client-provided Cadillac and chauffeur that the ex-senator used for three years without declaring its use on his taxes.

Also failing to "jump in" and collectively help us "out of the rut" was Nancy Killefer, Obama's choice to be the federal government's first chief performance officer. She, too, forgot to become "part of the deal" and pay her taxes. In 2005, the District of Columbia government filed a $946.69 tax lien on Killefer's home for failure to pay unemployment compensation taxes on her household help. She also withdrew from consideration.

Both Daschle and Killefer withdrew their names from consideration.

Earlier, Bill Richardson, Obama's pick to head the Commerce Department, withdrew his nomination amid an investigation into lucrative government contracts being awarded to Richardson's political donors. A grand jury is looking into $1.5 million in taxpayers' money that ended up in the coffers of California-based CDR Financial Products after the company donated $100,000 to Richardson to register Hispanic and American Indian voters.

Timothy Geithner, Obama's now-confirmed Treasury secretary (a job that includes control of the IRS), also failed to "jump in" and pay $34,000 on money he earned from 2001 to 2004 while working for the International Monetary Fund. "Had his (Geithner's) vote come after the Daschle news, it's likely that Geithner would be the one leaving town today," reported Newsweek on Feb. 4.

Regarding the stimulus package, supposedly designed to create jobs, there's no cut in the U.S. corporate tax rate, currently the highest in the world. For small business, the sector that created 79 percent of the net new jobs in the American economy over the past 15 years, there's not much more than lip service in the stimulus package, i.e., tax relief that amounts to less than 2 percent of package's various spending and tax-reform proposals.

In contrast, there seems to be no shortage of money to bail out the nation's serially incompetent state and local governments. Boynton Beach, Fla., for instance, wants $4.5 million for a new butterfly garden. The long-term job creation? Maybe they can hire some retirees with nets to keep the monarchs from escaping the perimeter and flying down the beach.