Nov 12, 201210:16 AMLeft Business Brain
with Tom Breuer
Intervention time: Repeat after me – Obama is not a socialist
The Republican unreality tour reached its climax on election night, when Karl Rove, whose super PAC wasted $300 million of rich guys’ money trying to turn Mitt Romney into a real boy, refused to acknowledge President Obama’s re-election, even as the rest of the sentient world knew the jig was up. (At this rate, we may not even have to address income inequality through progressive taxation. The Democrats can just keep nominating black guys and the money will trickle down on its own.)
Of course, when you live in an alternate reality, it’s hard to see anything clearly, much less the writing on the wall. As Republicans across the land confidently asserted that Mitt was a virtual lock, math – that exclusive province of Paul Ryan and the GOP (to hear modern conservatives tell it) – was roaring ferociously in the president’s favor. On election eve, Nate Silver, the New York Times’ newly famous electoral maven, put Obama’s chances of re-election at nearly 91%, adding that an Electoral College landslide in the president’s favor was likely.
It wasn’t magic, asserted Silver. It was just how the polls lined up.
Rove, Dick Morris, and George Will all had their own maps – and all were spectacularly wrong. In fact, Morris, who predicted a Romney landslide, has become such an embarrassment, he may never recover. At the very least, he is now sucking hind toe in the U.S. punditry.
But Rove’s election day Monty Python Black Knight impression was truly a wonder to behold, and revealed just how far off the beam these true believers had fallen.
(If for some scandalous reason you don’t get the Monty Python Black Knight reference, a short educational video is included below.)
So, these nattering nabobs were wrong. Any chance that they’re wrong about anything else? Any chance at all?
Now, it’s important to remember that when one speaks and behaves out of hubris, one is playing with fire. Here’s what I wrote in June, shortly after the final curtain fell on the Wisconsin Democratic Party’s own virtuoso face plant:
“In the wake of Scott Walker’s victory last Tuesday, there’s been no end of right-wing gloating and liberal wailing, and right now, both sides appear to think that the culture is inexorably vaulting into a bleaker or brighter (depending on which way you swing) future.
“But those who are currently inconsolable over the Walker rout (and make no mistake about it, it was a rout) can find solace in the Buddha’s words. Despair not. Everything changes. Especially here. After all, this is Wisconsin – one of the most reliably purple states in the union.”
Oh, what a difference five months makes. But as much as we progressives would like to gloat, we have to understand just how much work there is left to do. It starts with clearing the sticky webs of the GOP myth machine away and making an honest attempt to head back to square one – that fabled land where reasonable Democrats and Republicans can live together in harmony, hold hands, and hammer out something resembling a consensus. Indeed, before we have any chance of moving forward as a nation, we need to shovel out some of the most fragrant B.S. of the last four years.
Let the intervention begin, and please, please, please, let’s bury the following myths for all eternity:
- Obama is a socialist: I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating. Obama wants to raise the top marginal tax rate, which currently stands at 35%, a few points. If this makes him a socialist, it makes Dwight D. Eisenhower, who presided over top rates of 91% and 92%, a Das Kapital-carrying, commie-camp antichrist. If Obamacare is your proof, where does that put Richard Nixon, who agitated for universal health care way back in 1974?
- Obama is a wild-eyed partisan ideologue: We’ve heard this one ad nauseam. But ask yourself this: What’s more ideological, embracing a Republican idea (one hatched by the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, endorsed by Newt Gingrich, and implemented by Mitt Romney) in order to find common ground with the opposition party on health care reform, or roundly rejecting that same idea (i.e., your own idea) because it might make your opponent appear bipartisan? Obama was guilty of the former when he made the individual mandate part of Obamacare, whereas Republicans were guilty of the latter, allowing Mitt Romney to ride the “Obama is viciously partisan” meme to the doorstep of the White House.
- Obama is an unhinged tax-raiser: Under Obama, tax rates hit a 30-year low. The president also cut taxes for 95% of working families. (Source: Planet Earth)
- Tax increases inevitably kill the economy, and tax cuts automatically pay for themselves: This one simply won’t die. While cutting taxes on the rich or middle class can be a good idea – which is why Obama cut taxes for most Americans and left the Bush tax cuts in place after the economy cratered – the idea that high taxes on the very wealthy automatically destroy the economy is soundly refuted by history. Republicans also seem to have convinced themselves that tax cuts inevitably lead to a big tax windfall. But even George W. Bush’s own Treasury Department didn’t believe this. Nor is history on the side of this claim. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes:
“In 1981, Congress substantially lowered marginal income-tax rates on the well off, while in 1990 and 1993, Congress raised marginal rates on the well off. The economy grew at virtually the same rate in the 1990s as in the 1980s (adjusted for inflation and population growth), but revenues grew about twice as fast in the 1990s, when tax rates were increased, as in the 1980s, when tax rates were cut.”
- Obama is a secret Muslim and native-born Kenyan who wants to cede American sovereignty to the United Nations, confiscate your guns and gold, steal your children’s college fund to pay for wide-screen TVs and meth for prostitutes and welfare mothers, and frog-march your children into socialist LGBT re-education camps staffed by the Black Panthers, the Weather Underground, and semi-retired, fuzzy sweater vest-wearing PBS program directors. Okay, you can keep this one if you want.
Of course, there’s always room for compromise. But when one party is standing on terra firma and the other resides on an invisible spaceship orbiting Bizarro Earth, it can be kind of hard to find a consensus. We welcome the GOP back to its home planet. Just be sure to bring your boots. There’s a lot of shoveling left to do.
And now (with apologies to Jon Stewart), your moment of Zen:
Sign up for the free IB Update – your weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. Click here. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.