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《华盛顿邮报》克瑞翰默∶奥巴马只会煽动阶级仇恨

Charles Krauthammer



奥巴马在总统任期第一个月斩钉截铁地说,若3年内无法减轻国家经济沉疴,将只能做「一任总统」。

当四分之三的美国人认为这个国家「路线错误」,要怎麽寻求连任?奥巴马上周二到堪萨斯州的欧萨瓦汤米镇,也就是1910年老罗斯福总统发表著名演说的地方,对这个问题提出了说明。

听起来他和他的政策与当前景况无关。毫无疑问,一般都认为总统要对经济成长、失业和国债问题负责。但这次不用,责任在富人。

对奥巴马而言,是1%的富人,这些有钱人绊住了99%的人。「少数人的贪得无厌」正压迫中产阶级。要是富人付了自己「该付的部分」,中产阶级就会有机会。否则,政府将没有足够资金去「投资」教育和创新,迎向经济成长与机会的康庄大道。

要从哪里着手?一个在平均每人教育经费支出比1970年多一倍的国家,绩效却挂零,因此问题不在於教育投资不足,而在於投资错误。想想那些由联邦政府主导的创新支出,譬如Solyndra太阳能企业、酒精燃料,及荒谬的易燃车款雪佛兰伏特油电混合车。

我们当前的经济窘境可归因於各种理由∶全球化、昂贵的高科技药物、债台高筑、老化的人口让社会安全网岌岌可危。没错,不平等日益严重是整个西方世界的问题,但奥巴马认定其为经济疲弱的根本原因,则是荒诞不经。

他的老招数是∶选择性地废止布希政府时期的减税方案。彷佛使我们受害、使经济无法活络和中产阶级停滞不前的一切,只要对富人边际税率调高4.6%就能解决。

在一个有15兆美元债务,而且社福津贴失控的国家里,这会导致其他的国家需求均遭排挤。这种耽溺於「拿富人开刀」的增税方式,是反动自由主义的典型反应,它最多只能将今年赤字从1.3兆美元减少到1.22兆美元。解决潜在的结构性问题,就是要避免将「新政」和「大社会」这种图腾式计划翻新的反动自由主义。

而在面对结构性问题时,奥巴马这3年的招牌政策不是忽略问题,就是让问题更严重,这些政策包括∶

一、一笔超级的经济刺激方案,共让国债增近1兆美元。

二、联邦政府对健保产业的全面改组,让政府又多了一笔全新的支出。

三、铁腕管制措施,强力推动扼杀常规能源的政策。

在堪萨斯,奥巴马叹气说数以百万计的美国人「正被迫带著孩子去食物银行讨生活」。他的大胆真是让人佩服,因为这种批评应该是反对党对他在任3年来的强力谴责,而奥巴马居然把这当成自己寻求连任的理由。

怎会这样?你看,奥巴马对当前的经济困局丝毫没有责任。都是富人的错!

他无法治国,他无法推行政策。而振兴经济方案、奥巴马健保与失败的减排方案这三大招牌政策,奥巴马将在选战中苹字未提。

他还剩什麽?他只剩阶级仇恨可以利用。除此之外,还有更好的主意吗?

——该文作者克瑞翰默(Charles Krauthammer)是《华盛顿邮报》知名专栏作家。香港《苹果日报》2011年12月13日发表了该译文。

下面是原文∶

Obama’s campaign for class resentment

By Charles Krauthammer,

Published: December 8,2011, The Washington Post

In the first month of his presidency, Barack Obama averred that if in three years he hadn’t alleviated the nation’s economic pain, he’d be a “one-term proposition.”

When three-quarters of Americans think the country is on the “wrong track” and even Bill Clinton calls the economy “lousy,” how then to run for a second term? Traveling Tuesday to Osawatomie, Kan., site of a famous 1910 Teddy Roosevelt speech, Obama laid out the case.

It seems that he and his policies have nothing to do with the current state of things. Sure, presidents are ordinarily held accountable for economic growth, unemployment, national indebtedness (see Obama, above). But not this time. Responsibility, you see, lies with the rich.

Or, as the philosophers of Zuccotti Park call them, the 1 percent. For Obama, these rich are the ones holding back the 99 percent. The “breathtaking greed of a few” is crushing the middle class. If only the rich paid their “fair share,” the middle class would have a chance. Otherwise, government won’t have enough funds to “invest” in education and innovation, the golden path to the sunny uplands of economic growth and opportunity.
Where to begin? A country spending twice as much per capita on education as it did in 1970 with zero effect on test scores is not underinvesting in education. It’s mis-investing. As for federally directed spending on innovation — like Solyndra? Ethanol? The preposterously subsidized, flammable Chevy Volt?

Our current economic distress is attributable to myriad causes: globalization, expensive high-tech medicine, a huge debt burden, a burst housing bubble largely driven by precisely the egalitarian impulse that Obama is promoting (government aggressively pushing “affordable housing” that turned out to be disastrously unaffordable), an aging population straining the social safety net. Yes, growing inequality is a problem throughout the Western world. But Obama’s pretense that it is the root cause of this sick economy is ridiculous.

As is his solution, that old perennial: selective abolition of the Bush tax cuts. As if all that ails us, all that keeps the economy from humming and the middle class from advancing, is a 4.6-point hike in marginal tax rates for the rich.

This, in a country $15 trillion in debt with out-of-control entitlements systematically starving every other national need. This obsession with a sock-it-to-the-rich tax hike that, at most, would have reduced this year’s deficit from $1.30 trillion to $1.22 trillion is the classic reflex of reactionary liberalism — anything to avoid addressing the underlying structural problems, which would require modernizing the totemic programs of the New Deal and Great Society.

As for those structural problems, Obama has spent three years on signature policies that either ignore or aggravate them:

●A massive stimulus, a gigantic payoff to Democratic interest groups (such as teachers, public-sector unions) that will add nearly $1 trillion to the national debt.

●A sweeping federally run reorganization of health care that (a) cost Congress a year, (b) created an entirely new entitlement in a nation hemorrhaging from unsustainable entitlements, (c) introduced new levels of uncertainty into an already stagnant economy.

●High-handed regulation, best exemplified by Obama’s failed cap-and-trade legislation, promptly followed by the Environmental Protection Agency trying to impose the same conventional-energy-killing agenda by administrative means.

Moreover, on the one issue that already enjoys a bipartisan consensus — the need for fundamental reform of a corrosive, corrupted tax code that misdirects capital and promotes unfairness — Obama did nothing, ignoring the recommendations of several bipartisan commissions, including his own.

In Kansas, Obama lamented that millions “are now forced to take their children to food banks.” You have to admire the audacity. That’s the kind of damning observation the opposition brings up when you’ve been in office three years. Yet Obama summoned it to make the case for his reelection!

Why? Because, you see, he bears no responsibility for the current economic distress. It’s the rich. And, like Horatius at the bridge, Obama stands with the American masses against the soulless plutocrats.

This is populism so crude that it channels not Teddy Roosevelt so much as Hugo Chavez. But with high unemployment, economic stagnation and unprecedented deficits, what else can Obama say?

He can’t run on stewardship. He can’t run on policy. His signature initiatives — the stimulus, Obamacare and the failed cap-and-trade — will go unmentioned in his campaign ads. Indeed, they will be the stuff of Republican ads.

What’s left? Class resentment. Got a better idea?

letters@charleskrauthammer.com

2011-12-13

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