Saturday, January 28, 2012

Obama's populist tone will win him re-election

Making sure that the rich pay their share -- and framing the debate correctly -- will ensure victory for the president

Fighting against charges of "class warfare" following his State of the Union address earlier this week, President Barack Obama had some remarks regarding the American peoples' views on the rich on Friday:
"This is one of the biggest things I'm going to be pushing back on this year, this notion that this is somehow class warfare, that we're trying to stir up envy," Obama said. "Nobody envies rich people, everybody wants to be rich. Everybody aspires to be rich, and everybody understands you've got work hard to be successful. That's the American way."
This is precisely what needs to be said.

The poor don't envy the rich -- at least in the manner that class warfare is concerned. The debate over whether millionaires should pay a higher tax or not isn't about striking a blow to the wealthy in this country, but rather ensuring that our society remains intact, that those who benefited from a system that helped make them prosperous pay their fair share into that system as well.

Now, some might argue that making the rich pay more isn't "fair." But look at what the rich utilize to remain wealthy. If you're a business owner who has made millions on products you've distributed across the country, you're likely utilizing interstate highways more in one year than the typical American does in an entire lifetime. If you're a stock trader, benefiting on the businesses in which you invest in, you're also enjoying the spoils of a capitalist society in which those businesses are allowed to prosper, a society the government helps maintain.

The quote from Elizabeth Warren, Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat Massachusetts (once held by Ted Kennedy), best sums it up:
There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there - good for you!

But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that maurauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea - God bless. Keep a big hunk of it.

But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.
In other words, your wealth is yours to keep -- but to believe that it was created by your hand alone, to have this fanciful notion that you did it without any assistance from the public dollar in any way whatsoever, is foolish.

This debate will likely shape the entire presidential election season, once arguments over moon bases and the like come to an end on the GOP side. The populist tone that Obama is pushing will resonate with the American people, especially if he follows through on what he sets out to do.

I have no doubt that, with that message, Barack Obama will easily win re-election against whomever the Republicans eventually decide to be their candidate.

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