By Ben Cohen
An interesting analysis of Obama’s economic agenda from Znet:
TAXES: Early in his campaign the emphasis was on making the wealthy pay their fair share, whose taxes had been repeatedly cut under Reagan, Clinton, and Bush.
Obama at first called for the outright repeal of Bush’s first term tax cuts that yielded almost $4 trillion in capital gains, dividends, inheritance, and other tax reductions for the wealthiest households and corporations. But the demand for the wealthy to pay their fair share softened as the campaign neared its end.
Capital gains tax rates, now at 15 percent under Bush, were initially slated to increase to 25 percent, then reduced to 20 percent. (The same applied for the tax on dividends.) That’s a minimal 5 percent increase. The Obama campaign bragged the 20 percent was still nearly 40 percent less than its level under Ronald Reagan and represented the lowest level in all but 5 of the 92 years in which capital gains and dividend taxes were collected.
Obama is extremely difficult to pin down in terms of his economic ideology – he seems to be all things to all people, a characteristic of his political style. As New York Time writer David Leonhardt writes:
Some of the confusion stems from Obama’s own strategy of presenting
himself as a postpartisan figure. A few weeks ago, I joined him on a
flight from Orlando to Chicago and began our conversation by asking
about his economic approach. He started to answer, but then interrupted
himself. “My core economic theory is pragmatism,” he said, “figuring
out what works.”
This, of course, is not the whole story.
Invoking pragmatism doesn’t help the average voter much; ideology,
though it often gets a bad name, matters, because it offers insight
into how a candidate might actually behave as president. I have spent
much of this year trying to get a handle on what is sometimes called
Obamanomics and have come away thinking that Obama does have an
economic ideology. It’s just not a completely familiar one. Depending
on how you look at it, he is both more left-wing and more right-wing
than many people realize.
The rest of Leonhardt’s article is extremely interesting, and certainly worth reading if you want to get a handle on the next President’s economic agenda. We’ll keep covering Obama’s economic policy switches, as it will be crucial to his success as a President. If he swings to the Right, his rhetoric over the campaign will have been just that – empty words and empty promises. Real reform can only come from a more just economic system, and Obama’s supporters need to hold him to account.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.