February 17, 2008

Barack Obama, Leftist?

Two foreign newspapers introduce the notion of Barack Obama as a Leftist. The Times of London reports that Republicans intend on painting him as such in the general election, based on his voting record in the Senate and in the Illinios state legislature. La Jornada of Mexico celebrates Obama as potentially the first Leftist President in American history, and a harbinger of what awaits the hemisphere (via Memeorandum and TMV):

LEADING Republicans believe they can trounce Barack Obama in the presidential election by tarring him as a shady Chicago socialist. They are increasingly confident that his campaign could collapse by the time their attack machine has finished with him. ...

“It will be easy to portray him as even harder-left than Hillary,” said Norquist. “Hillary could lose the election, but Obama could collapse. People already know Hillary and she is not popular, but the disadvantage for Obama is that Republicans can teach people who don’t know him who he is.”

Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House and Republican guru, recently described Obama as the “most leftwing candidate to run since George McGovern” – a reference to the anti-Vietnam-war Democrat who lost 49 states out of 50 to Richard Nixon in the 1972 election. Norquist believes Obama’s questionable Chicago connections will stir things further.

Luis Linares Zapata agrees, but he's a lot happier about it. In La Jornada, he writes that Obama has initiated the "most attractive electoral phenomenon in the recent history of the US":

Obama aims at modifying deeply the ways, habits and privileges of the politicians in Washington, and to destroy the knots that block or detrimentally affect the public programs. His priorities are socially oriented, including everyone and not leaving out, as is happening now, a great proportion of Americans from important benefits. But, above all, he has succeeded in imbuing people with the feeling that a profound change is unavoidable for the future of the country. He wants to transform not only politics, to make it a decent and responsible activity, but to change society itself to make it fairer, less excluding, and more unified.

The possibility that a colored man [perhaps a poor translation of "man of color"] will become the Democratic candidate, against all initial predictions, is growing as his movement gains impetus. Last Tuesday’s primaries show unequivocally his robustness. Despair is creeping into the opposing field. Everything signals an unsteady Hilary who has lost her way and even her composure to the point of changing her strategist. The coming Super Tuesday 2 will be the definitive confrontation, when states with numerous delegates participate. If Barack wins thereafter the presidency of the United States, he will be the first leftist politician in that country and another signal of the present and future times in this continent.

The foreign press certainly recognizes Obama as a Leftist. It's not outrageous that the Republicans see him the same way. Mexico's pundits have seen their share of Leftists promising Utopia, and Linares Zapata recognizes the strain of politics north of the border as well.

Take a look at Barack Obama's economic plan, for instance. It provides some specifics for Obama's stratospheric rhetoric, but really just gives us a series of proposals to further entrench the federal government as the nanny of the American family. For instance, Obama proposes to create a government-run savings program that provides matching funds on savings. In other words, Obama wants to collect tax money to redistribute it to savers, in a plan that works much the same as employer 401k plans. Why should the government pay people to save their money, especially outside the 401ks that work better and have much higher caps?

Do you like the IRS? Want to trust them to do your tax returns? Rather than simplify taxes, Obama instead wants to have the IRS prepare your returns for you and send them out for your signature. Since the IRS gets all of your income information already, he wants the IRS to calculate how much you owe, without apparently considering that most Americans itemize for deductions. It doesn't cut down on preparation time in any case, but merely transfers the cost to the federal government-- as well as more power to the IRS.

Let's also consider the workplace pension plan Obama will create. It will create a system of accounts that can follow a worker who moves from employer to employer, and will also provide for pensions when working for small and midsize companies that do not offer one. We already have this system; it's called Social Security, and it's slowly going broke. When George Bush tried to bolster it with private accounts -- integrated into SS, not a new parallel system as Obama proposes -- Democrats screamed bloody murder.

And what happens when the federal government sets up a competing pension system for American workers? Do you think that employers will continue to offer pensions, or do you suppose they'll shrug that off and let the government take up the slack instead? We will have created another massive new entitlement system, when we can't afford the ones we have now.

Under Barack Obama's vision for America, the federal government will run vast parts of the economy. Would that make him the first Leftist President? Only if he gets to the White House ahead of Hillary Clinton.


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