Monday, February 1, 2010
Obama's Robin Hood Budget
By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network
Picture President Obama, if you will, in the green uniform and tights of Hood. For surely, he is a modern-day Robin Hood today. Proposing a $3.8 trillion budget that takes from the rich and gives to the poor.
During the campaign, some of my more affluent, conservative friends warned that this day would come. Some of my more liberal buddies hoped that it would.
Although the president announced during his State of the Union address that he would freeze most domestic discretionary spending in 2011, today's proposed budget sets aside billions of dollars to combat unemployment.
But it involved cuts to other programs - including massive slashes to NASA's - there'd be no moon exploration and the program to replace the retiring space shuttles with a new rocket would be scrapped. Left alone are a number of women's programs. Obama had been criticized by women's groups for not doing enough for them. The White House denies that the budget decisions were influenced by that pressure.
Of course, during tough economic times difficult fiscal decisions must be reached. Businesses across the United States have been setting spending priorities. So have families.
But the most philosophically controversial part of the budget are the president's plans to increase taxes for the rich - and to banks.
Obama is trying, desperately, to salvage his presidency and his party's hold on Congress, by positioning himself as a populist president. When the economy is hit like this - and when the government bails out banks that then don't - as expected - start appreciately helping people who are losing their homes - Wall Street becomes less-than-popular.
And when you're struggling to make end's meet - the disparity between rich and poor becomes more evident. And some people with less get resentful.
A friend who has a little more money than most of us and who predicted that Obama would put the squeeze on the rich puts it this way:
"The rich deserve what they have because they worked hard to get it. And if it were not for the rich business owners the economy would be in even worse shape. They are the ones who create the jobs. If you tax them too much, they'll hire fewer people.
"He (Obama shouldn't be messing with something he clearly doesn't understand. If you leave the economy alone it will naturally recover by itself.
"These people (affluent business owners) are smarter than the rest of us. That's how they made their money and that's how they've created jobs. Plus, they earned that money. The government doesn't have the right to take it away. Ours is a system of capitalism, not socialism. And it's been proven, capitalism works. Look at our standard of living as proof."
The question is, which approach most resonates with the public? My friend's, or Obama's?
The administration is clearly betting that the voters see Robin Hood as a hero and not as a thief.