《華盛頓郵報》克瑞翰默:奧巴馬只會煽動階級仇恨

Charles Krauthammer



奧巴馬在總統任期第一個月斬釘截鐵地說,若3年內無法減輕國家經濟沉痾,將只能做「一任總統」。

當四分之三的美國人認為這個國家「路線錯誤」,要怎麼尋求連任?奧巴馬上周二到堪薩斯州的歐薩瓦湯米鎮,也就是1910年老羅斯福總統發表著名演說的地方,對這個問題提出了說明。

聽起來他和他的政策與當前景況無關。毫無疑問,一般都認為總統要對經濟成長、失業和國債問題負責。但這次不用,責任在富人。

對奧巴馬而言,是1%的富人,這些有錢人絆住了99%的人。「少數人的貪得無厭」正壓迫中產階級。要是富人付了自己「該付的部分」,中產階級就會有機會。否則,政府將沒有足夠資金去「投資」教育和創新,迎向經濟成長與機會的康莊大道。

要從哪裡着手?一個在平均每人教育經費支出比1970年多一倍的國家,績效卻掛零,因此問題不在於教育投資不足,而在於投資錯誤。想想那些由聯邦政府主導的創新支出,譬如Solyndra太陽能企業、酒精燃料,及荒謬的易燃車款雪佛蘭伏特油電混合車。

我們當前的經濟窘境可歸因於各種理由:全球化、昂貴的高科技藥物、債台高築、老化的人口讓社會安全網岌岌可危。沒錯,不平等日益嚴重是整個西方世界的問題,但奧巴馬認定其為經濟疲弱的根本原因,則是荒誕不經。

他的老招數是:選擇性地廢止布希政府時期的減稅方案。彷彿使我們受害、使經濟無法活絡和中產階級停滯不前的一切,只要對富人邊際稅率調高4.6%就能解決。

在一個有15兆美元債務,而且社福津貼失控的國家裡,這會導致其他的國家需求均遭排擠。這種耽溺於「拿富人開刀」的增稅方式,是反動自由主義的典型反應,它最多只能將今年赤字從1.3兆美元減少到1.22兆美元。解決潛在的結構性問題,就是要避免將「新政」和「大社會」這種圖騰式計劃翻新的反動自由主義。

而在面對結構性問題時,奧巴馬這3年的招牌政策不是忽略問題,就是讓問題更嚴重,這些政策包括:

一、一筆超級的經濟刺激方案,共讓國債增近1兆美元。

二、聯邦政府對健保產業的全面改組,讓政府又多了一筆全新的支出。

三、鐵腕管制措施,強力推動扼殺常規能源的政策。

在堪薩斯,奧巴馬嘆氣說數以百萬計的美國人「正被迫帶著孩子去食物銀行討生活」。他的大膽真是讓人佩服,因為這種批評應該是反對黨對他在任3年來的強力譴責,而奧巴馬居然把這當成自己尋求連任的理由。

怎會這樣?你看,奧巴馬對當前的經濟困局絲毫沒有責任。都是富人的錯!

他無法治國,他無法推行政策。而振興經濟方案、奧巴馬健保與失敗的減排方案這三大招牌政策,奧巴馬將在選戰中隻字未提。

他還剩什麼?他只剩階級仇恨可以利用。除此之外,還有更好的主意嗎?

——該文作者克瑞翰默(Charles Krauthammer)是《華盛頓郵報》知名專欄作家。香港《蘋果日報》2011年12月13日發表了該譯文。

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?

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2011-12-13

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