The only real surprise was how he soft-pedaled the problem of inequality. The word itself was only mentioned once. This probably explains why Obama only trotted out an inequality agenda in year six of his term, with his power in its nadir, instead of in year one. When it was at its apex.
A few years ago, dems endlessly complained about the ban on reimportation of drugs form Canada. These days, they do not mention it al all, though the ban persists. Obama was on the outside when he finally made it in, he cut a deal with Big Pharma that kept the ban in place in exchange for industry backing of OBC.
He called for tax reform, more money for infrastructure spending, subsidies for tech companies and scientific research, more job training, universal rep-K education, promoting “equal pay for equal work” for women (EVEN THOUGH THE WOMEN IN THE WHITE HOUSE MAKE LESS THAN THE MEN DO), and raising the minimum wage.
The first and most obvious is that the government has demonstrated a knack for being a perpetrator of the very ailments Obma promises to ameliorate. Its original purpose was to serve as a sort of domestic tariff. By 1937 Northern industries had come to terms with organized labor, but the south still resisted. Fearing a flight of capital to Dixie it was Northern businessmen who made the difference in pushing a minimum wage through congress.
The New Deal discussed minimum wages in detail. Advocates of bold, activist government want to forget all the inequalities it creates. His signature achievement the ACA is one of the most grossly unfair pieces of legislation to become laws in modern times. It is an enormous redistribution of wealth form the young to the old, the healthy to the sick, without due regard to socioeconomic status. The second problem with Obama inequality agenda is more subtle, yet more pernicious. It overlooks the fact that, over time, everybody’s standard of living tends to improve.
Today’s poor have access to nutrition, amenities, medical care and knowledge that were scare a long time ago. It is clear the almost everyone wins with economic development. The game of political power is necessarily zero sum.
By expanding government to deal with economic imbalances, Obama threatens to exacerbate the nation’s already deeply unequal power of relations. Today DC operates according to a perverted form of Madisonian pluralism: Public policy is deemed legitimate ant because it measurably advances the common interest, but because all the active organized interest groups in town have had a chance to influence it at the margins.
The problem is now so bad that the federal government is arguably incapable of taking on any substantial project without treating groups differently, based solely upon their political connections. Obama entered Washington promising to change this process! The stimulus, the auto bailouts, ACA, and the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill—only reinforced it.
Under the guise of distributing wealth more evenly, Obama will favor key interest groups and by centralizing more authority within DC he will enshrine those privileges in the law. This may or may not equalize the money in the wallets of the citizens but is will assuredly take political power form the people a large and hand it over to friends of Obama.
Those seeking to enact such an equality agenda through the federal government would approach the problem humbly; knowing that Uncle Sam has a way of being profoundly unfair. Acknowledging the structural limits of government’s ability to act for the common good. They would then focus on empowering individuals directly, rather than via bureaucrats or interest groups. Block grants to state and local governments, vouchers and easily accessible tax credits are all ways to level the economic playing field as well as the political one, for they all can empower individuals to make their own life choices.
Today’s Democratic party will offer nothing of the sort. Founded by Jackson as a coalition deeply suspicious of government, one whose constitutional framework has been twisted to concentrate wealth and power upon itself and its clients, has come to represent everything that Jackson himself once opposed.

Source—weekly standard, jay cost


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