Recently by Thomas Sowell: How Smart Are We?
You expect Republican politicians to criticize Democratic administrations and vice versa. But when Democrats start criticizing Democratic administrations, that is news. Someone once said that the headline “Dog bites Man” is not news, but “Man bites Dog” is. We are now starting to get “Democrat bites Democrat” news.
Long-time Democratic pollsters Patrick Caddell and Douglas Schoen last week took on one of President Barack Obama’s most bitter betrayals of his campaign rhetoric and the high hopes of people who voted for him.
Their op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal dealt with race, and it pulled no punches: “Rather than being a unifier, Mr. Obama has divided America on the basis of race, class and partisanship. Moreover, his cynical approach to governance has encouraged his allies to pursue a similar strategy of racially divisive politics on his behalf.”
Cynical? This man with the lofty rhetoric and sermonizing style? Only if you follow his deeds, instead of his words.
Part of the polarization that Barack Obama has caused among the American public has been due to the fact that some people do not look behind rhetoric and symbolism. Such people are prime candidates to become part of the Obama cult. Those who look only at deeds tend to become critics. But those who closely follow both his words and his deeds are the most outraged of all, because of the gross contradictions between those words and those deeds.
Caddell and Schoen go all the way back to Jeremiah Wright in tracing Barack Obama’s actual track record when it comes to race. That Obama spent 20 years in the church of a man preaching racial hate should have told us all we needed to know.
That Obama as President of the United States, on nationwide television, could attack a white policeman who arrested his friend Henry Louis Gates, while admitting that he didn’t know the specifics, should have alerted even those who had bought the excuses about Jeremiah Wright.
Caddell and Schoen also mention the refusal of Obama’s Justice Department to prosecute black thugs who stationed themselves outside a voting place to intimidate whites who came there to vote. It was caught on tape but the career Justice Department attorney who handled the case was told to drop it — and resigned rather than be part of a sordid coverup.
Now, Caddell and Schoen argue, the Obama administration’s coming to the rescue of illegal immigrants in Arizona is more of the same race-based politics, in this case to win the Hispanic vote.
What Barack Obama and his followers want is called “comprehensive immigration reform.” What that amounts to is some form of amnesty up front, combined with a promise to strengthen the border later. That political game has been played for years, and it has roped in some weak-kneed Republicans, as well as being a mainstay of Democratic politics.
Regardless of what immigration policy anyone believes in, the government cannot carry out that policy until after it has first gained control of the borders. Regardless of what Washington politicians may say about how many immigrants should be allowed into the country, or on what basis, none of that matters when the real decision is in the hands of innumerable other people, who can simply climb over a fence along the border and come on in whenever they feel like it.
Even if they get caught, the most that is likely to happen to them is that they get sent back to try again later. In many cases in the past, they have been issued legal documents ordering them to appear in court — and were released inside the United States. Why anyone would think that people who disregarded the border and the fence would take a piece of paper more seriously defies logic.
That doesn’t mean that Washington politicians were stupid. They were political, which is worse. The point was to win Hispanic votes, even though not all Hispanics believe in open borders.
President Obama would rather have an issue with which to win the Hispanic vote than to have a bipartisan bill that would simply take control of the borders. Such a bill would help the country but that obviously takes a back seat in an election year. Even some members of Obama’s own party are uneasy with such cynicism.
Rumors of Congressional Democrats privately expressing disapproval of the Obama administration’s actions and policies have been given more credence by such things as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s public criticism of White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. But when two long-time Democratic pollsters, Patrick Caddell and Douglas Schoen, called President Obama “cynical” and “racially divisive,” that was a dramatic statement. It was like saying that the emperor has no clothes.
A much more rhetorically subdued but nevertheless devastating implicit criticism of current government spending policies came from an even more unlikely source: the Congressional Budget Office, whose director is a Democrat.
Without naming names or making political charges, the Congressional Budget Office last week issued a report titled “Federal Debt and the Risk of a Fiscal Crisis.” The report’s dry, measured words paint a painfully bleak picture of the long-run dangers from the current runaway government deficits.
The CBO report points out that the national debt, which was 36 percent of the Gross Domestic Product three years ago, is now projected to be 62 percent of GDP at the end of fiscal year 2010 — and rising in future years.
Tracing the history of the national debt back to the beginning of the country, the CBO finds that the national debt did not exceed 50 percent of GDP, even when the country was fighting the Civil War, the First World War or any other war except World War II. Moreover, a graph in the CBO report shows the national debt going down sharply after World War II, as the nation began paying off its wartime debt when the war was over.
By contrast, our current national debt is still going up and may end up in “unfamiliar territory,” according to the CBO, reaching “unsustainable levels.” They spell out the economic consequences — and it is not a pretty picture.
Although Barack Obama and members of his administration constantly talk about the so-called “stimulus” spending as creating a demand for goods that is in turn “creating jobs,” every dime they spend comes from somewhere else, which means that there is less money to create jobs somewhere else.
There is no reason to believe that all this runaway spending is creating jobs — on net balance. The fact that the unemployment rate remains stuck at nearly 10 percent belies the idea that great numbers of jobs are being created — again, on net balance.
White House press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ recent rant against Rush Limbaugh for criticizing the bailout of General Motors went on and on about how this bailout had saved “a million jobs.” But where does Gibbs think the bailout money came from? The Tooth Fairy?
When you take money from the taxpayers and spend it to rescue the jobs of one set of workers — your union political supporters, in this case — what does that do to the demand for the jobs of other workers, whose products taxpayers would have bought with the money you took away from them? There is no net economic gain to the country from this, though there may well be political gains for the administration from having rescued their UAW supporters.
The same principle applies to money that came from selling government bonds, thus adding to the national debt. People who bought those government bonds had other things they could have invested in, if those government bonds had not been issued.
As the Congressional Budget Office puts it, if the national debt continues to grow out of control, a “growing portion of people’s savings would go to purchase government debt rather than toward investments in productive capital goods such as factories and computers; that ‘crowding out’ of investment would lead to lower output and incomes than would otherwise occur.”
Just paying the interest on a growing national debt can require higher tax rates, which “would discourage work and saving and further reduce output,” according to the CBO.
It would probably do no good to send Robert Gibbs — or Barack Obama, for that matter — a copy of the government’s own Congressional Budget Office report. Spending vast sums of money in politically strategic places helps the Obama administration politically, and that is obviously their bottom line.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His Web site is www.tsowell.com.