The Right Opinion

Let Obama be Obama

By Victor Davis Hanson · Nov. 22, 2012

After his party’s devastating setback in the 2010 midterm elections, Barack Obama was re-elected earlier this month by painting his Republican opponents as heartless in favoring lower taxes for the rich. They were portrayed as nativists for opposing the Dream Act amnesty for illegal immigrants, and as callous in battling the federal takeover of health care.

Republicans countered with arguments that higher taxes on the employer class hurt the economy in general. They assumed most voters knew that amnesties are euphemisms for undermining federal law and in the past have had the effect of promoting more illegal immigration. They tried to point out that there is no such thing as free universal health care, since Obamacare will only shift responsibility from health care practitioners and patients to inefficient government bureaucracies and hide the true costs with higher taxes.

And they utterly failed to convince the American people of any of that.

Why doesn’t the Republican-controlled House of Representatives give both voters and President Obama what they wished for?

The current battle over the budget hinges on whether to return to the Clinton-era income tax rates, at least for those who make more than $250,000 a year. Allowing federal income rates to climb to near 40 percent on that cohort would bring in only about $80 billion in revenue a year – a drop in the bucket when set against the $1.3 trillion annual deficit that grew almost entirely from out-of-control spending since 2009.

Instead, why not agree to hike federal income tax rates only on the true “millionaires and billionaires,” “fat cats” and “corporate jet owners” whom Obama has so constantly demonized? In other words, skip over the tire-store owner or dentist, and tax those, for example, who make $1 million or more in annual income. Eight out of the 10 wealthiest counties in the United States voted for Obama. Corporate lawyers and the affluent in Hollywood and on Wall Street should all not mind “paying their fair share.”

Upping federal tax rates to well over 40 percent on incomes of more than $1 million a year would also offer a compromise: shielding most of the small businesspeople Republicans wish to protect while allowing Obama to tax the one-percenters whom he believes have so far escaped paying what they owe, and then putting responsibility on the president to keep his part of the bargain in making needed cuts in spending.

Likewise, instead of hiking death taxes on small businesspeople, why not close loopholes for billion-dollar estates by taxing their gargantuan bequests to pet foundations that avoid estate taxes. Why should a Warren Buffett or Bill Gates act as if he built his own business and can solely determine how his fat-cat fortune is spent for the next century – meanwhile robbing the government of billions of dollars in lost estate taxes along with any federal say in how such fortunes are put to public use?

The president flipped in an election year on the Dream Act. Suddenly, in 2012, Obama decided that he indeed did have the executive power to order amnesty without congressional approval for those who came illegally as children, stayed in school or joined the military, avoided arrest and thus deserved citizenship. In response, Republicans supposedly lost Latino support by insisting that federal immigration law be enforced across the board, regardless of race, class, gender or national origin.

But why not make the president’s Dream Act part of the envisioned grand bargain on immigration? Once it is agreed upon that we have the ability to distinguish those foreign nationals deserving of amnesty, then surely we also have the ability to determine who does not meet that agreed-upon criteria.

Why, then, cannot conservatives allow a pathway to citizenship for the play-by-the-rules millions who qualify, while regrettably enforcing an un-Dream Act for others who just recently arrived illegally; enrolled in, and have remain on, public assistance; or have been convicted of a crime? Who could object to that fair compromise?

Finally, Obamacare will be imposed on all Americans by 2014. But so far the Obama administration has granted more than 1,200 exemptions to favored corporations and unions, covering about 4 million Americans. Shouldn’t Republicans seek to end all exemptions rather than tackle the improbable task of overturning Obamacare itself? Their motto should be: “Equality for all; special treatment for no one!”

One of the brilliant themes of the 2012 Obama campaign was forcing Republicans, on principle, to systematically oppose most of the things that the administration wanted them to oppose – thereby shielding itself from the unwelcome consequences of its own ideology while winning political points. Now, in defeat, Republicans should agree to let the chips lie where they fall: Tax only the truly rich; reward only the truly deserving illegal immigrants; and exempt no one from Obamacare.

Nothing could be fairer or more equal than that.



Jim in Alabama said:

Victor, Your tax idea gives something and gains something. Your Dream Act plan does too. But where's the gain in your Obamacare idea? Other than we'll show them our face....less a nose? There are places for compromise and there are places to stand and fight and resistance to Obamacare is the most important of those. If the Republican Party was worth ANYTHING it would be calling on its Governors to act in unison in refusing to take any part in it.

Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 9:48 AM

Abu Nudnik in Toronto replied:

I think that's what he said, Jim. Equal treatment for all and no exemptions. After all, that's what a law is. VDH is saying that without the 1200 exemptions, those who are presently exempt will create a pretty good backlash. Many, including Catholic organizations, will opt for the fine. Maybe I'm reading too much into it but an avalanche of simple passive resistance on medical insurance could render Obamacare inoperable. Remember the first law of politics is that he who will not submit to government can not be governed. It is the government which must back down to a brave citizenry or become a tyranny.

Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 4:23 PM

Jake in Carlsbad, CA said:


I agree with your premise. Let Obama have what he wanted and let the chips fall where there may. Why should republicans be the bad guys. Your three suggestions put the ball in Obama's court where they belong.

Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 4:14 PM

Abu Nudnik in Toronto said:

It's a brilliant article. More importantly it's practical and politics must be practical. Who will take the blame for Obama's own policies but Obama? Don't forget that the dreams of the oppressed have come true before. Keep the faith, baby!

Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 4:26 PM

Robinius in Broomfield, Colorado said:

Something seems wrong here to me. We let Obama force his "Obamacare" down our throats so that by 2014 it is as entrenched as Social Security is. When it fails we will somehow go back to the way things were before. How on earth is that ever going to happen? Social Security & Medicare are SACRED. Obamacare will be too. Giving Obama everything he wants is foolish in the extreme. We need to fight these people - not join them. If you think you can make Obama compromise by modifying his executive order on immigration, or by rescinding the exemptions, or changing his tax rate increases on the rich you need to put down your joint and let your head clear. Why should he? It ain't gonna happen. It's a pipe dream. Forward!

Friday, November 23, 2012 at 3:13 AM

Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

Balls & brains are needed, to combat neo-marx propaganda. POTUS should be an asset to LIBERTY, not a liability!!! FOWARD!!! LOL V.D.H..

Friday, November 23, 2012 at 6:55 AM

Tom Mumford in Manchester, Connecticut USA said:

Interesting points, but one weakness. When you mentio upping taxes on the rich, then say "...and then putting responsibility on the president to keep his part of the bargain in making needed cuts in spending...", have you not noticed that that is a plan that has not ever worked in the past? The Democrats in Congress will take the "victory" of a tax hike, then renege on spending cuts. An alternative to this may be that, as cuts are made, tax increases will correspondingly be put in place. And not retroactively. In that way, the Democratic-controlled Senate can't renege and get their tax hikes.

Friday, November 23, 2012 at 11:30 AM

rippedchef in sc said:

my 14 yr old son is a better shot than I,my 9 yr old daughter is hitting the target with every round(still working on centering) and God help the idiot that messes with the wife-poor bastard will never know what hit him-a smokin' hot MILF with a glock 40-thats what I call gun control

Friday, November 23, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

interesting---Build up the conservative party,and say bye-bye to liberal T&S Republicans!!!

Friday, November 23, 2012 at 4:40 PM

p3orion in Midland, Georgia said:

I agree that the Republicans should not only drop their opposition, but lead the charge to increase taxes on the rich.

I don't agree with that philosophically, of course, but purely from a political standpoint. Those taxes are going to rise no matter what Republicans do; the "fiscal cliff" assures us of that. After taxes rise automatically across the board, some smart Democrat will immediately propose lowering them for all BUT the top two percent (or whatever arbitrary definition of "too rich") and if we say "everyone or no one," we'll be in the position of OPPOSING a tax reduction for 98% of taxpayers. Drawing a line in the stand on that position will not work, and will simply lay into the Democrat talking point that we would rather "protect the rich" than help the poor and middle class, while they will claim the unfamiliar label of tax cutters. Either way, the "rich" will see their taxes rise; it's just a matter of how much damage we do to ourselves in the process.

Since GIVE OBAMA ALL THE ROPE HE NEEDS TO HANG HIMSELF. Let taxes rise, and let unemployment rise right alongside it as we slip into another recession. Then sit back and watch them try in vain to blame it on George Bush. I don't think that argument will work this time, and the obama voters, who will be hurt most by the downturn, may finally learn a valuable lesson the rest of us already knew.

Monday, November 26, 2012 at 12:41 PM