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Obama - Transforming America

[10/1/13] Obama: Transforming America

(National Review)

Federal Spending. Obama has also fundamentally changed Americans’ ideas about the redistributive state. Obama is seen as expanding entitlements in part as a political tool, quite apart from the question of their efficacy in eliminating poverty. These payouts were judged not just on whether they hurt or helped people, but also, in the Greek and Roman sense, of increasing the number of recipients so as to change political realities.

Taxes and debt. Taxes are seen now not just as a way to fund expenditures, but as a punitive tool — hence the new phraseology of 1 percent, fat cats, corporate-jet owners, you did not build that, no time to profit, at some point you’ve made enough money, etc. A more equal but poorer America appears to be preferable to a more affluent but less equal nation.

Health care. The purpose of this vast new entitlement was not to ensure all Americans better health care (if it had been, then pro-Obama business owners, unions, and congressional staffers would have wanted in), but instead a sort of health-care TSA bureaucracy, with more dependents, more federal workers, and higher redistributive taxes — in short, larger government.

Interest rates. Yet almost nonexistent interest rates have sharpened the class divide. The very wealthy have benefited enormously as capital streamed into the stock market in desperate search of almost any return. The very poor do not depend on interest on savings as a hedge against inflation or as central to retirement. That leaves the middle class, who so far have not felt the upside of zero interest rates — the interest on their credit-card debt remains sky-high, their student loans are steep, and their mortgage interest for the most part is not all that low. The banks loan at high interest and pay almost nothing on deposits; Wall Street welcomes in cash without much worry about competition to produce returns; and the poor are the beneficiaries of the vast federal borrowing that goes some way toward explaining why interest rates cannot climb, given that servicing the ever-rising federal debt would become almost unsustainable.

The presidency. We live in an age when a president can arbitrarily nullify a law, like Obamacare’s employer mandate; ignore it, like the Defense of Marriage Act; or simply create it, as with partial blanket amnesties. Various wars — on coal, guns, non-union businesses, and political opponents — are waged by executive action. Obama has set the precedent of a president creating, ignoring, or defying laws as he sees fit to forward a progressive agenda.

Scandal. whether it is the Benghazi deception, the IRS scandal, the NSA disclosures, the AP monitoring, or Fast and Furious, a new precedent has been established that the public is supposed to weigh two considerations in assessing scandal: the truth versus the damage that the truth can do to a progressive vision of a fairer America. So far the truth has lost.

Politics. In his political style, Obama seems to operate on the medieval concept of exemption. Praising “civility” allows you to call your opponents veritable terrorists; talk of unity means energizing supporters to get in their opponents’ face; Damning fat cats and corporate-jet owners allows a president to hold serial $50,000-a-head fundraisers.

Energy. The chief energy issues for the Obama administration are not national security, not energy independence, not greater competitiveness for American business, not savings for the American consumer, and not jobs. Instead, whether a fuel might heat the atmosphere seems the sole concern.

Race. From the beer summit to “punish our enemies” to the two occasions of pop editorializing about Trayvon Martin, and from Eric Holder’s “my people” to “nation of cowards,” the Obama administration has sought at opportune times to emphasize racial differences, mostly to secure the base for Obama’s own reelection and for midterm elections. The result is that race relations have become more polarized than at any other time in the last 30 years. — the president’s goal has often been division, not unity.

Illegal immigration. Under Obama, illegal immigration has become a political if not a racially charged issue. Perhaps this vision was best summarized by ACORN’s former CEO, Bertha Lewis. She recently urged African-Americans to support increased immigration on the following rationale: “We got some Latino cousins, we got some Asian cousins, we got some Native-American cousins, we got all kind of cousins. . . . Cousins need to get together, because if we’re going to be [part of the non-white] majority, it makes sense for black people in this country to get down with immigration reform. . . . Everyone, even all white folks in this country, acknowledge that in a minute, [the] United States of America will be a new majority, will be majority minority, a brand-new thing. . . . For the first time ever in history, African-Americans outvoted white Americans. Pooh. That’s the fear of the white man. That could change everything. That’s why [immigration] should matter to us.”

Foreign policy. Just as, in Obama’s worldview, the 1 percent exercise undue influence in the United States, so too abroad America has exercised exceptional power and influence that either are not warranted by its traditions and history, or do not contribute to stability and social justice in the world at large. Fundamentally transforming the role of the U.S. means tilting toward countries that are suspicious of the Western tradition, and favoring groups and countries like Turkey, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Palestinians that have supposedly legitimate grievances against the United States.

Guns. In loudly threatening to enact more gun control after each publicized tragic shooting, the Obama administration has created a climate of fear, which has prompted hoarding, shortages, panic buying, and paranoia, which have accomplished what the federal government could not.