Glawe: Obama is nowhere near socialism

Michael Glawe

Last week, I submitted a column concerning the deterioration of educated debate among the proponents of both the right and the left, where there is no doubt this is attenuating our former political prestige. Now, you’d think everybody, regardless of political affiliations, would indeed be in agreement, resoundingly, of debates supported by strong factual backing. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

Contrasting my statements were opposing comments, which, with all due respect, were rather terse and unlettered. I was indeed perplexed by the claims that my column merely reiterated “lefty” name-calling, when I had done nothing of the sort. As if the concept of education was simply liberal (the political party, not the actual meaning) dogma?

This disregards, of course, the fact that some of the greatest minds, who could debate vociferously might I add, were Conservative and Libertarian.

One ignoble statement struck a fine chord I found to be rather perturbing. It was the “Barack Obama is a socialist” trump card. Again, the claim was made without any factual evidence, and it won’t suffice to be categorized as an actual argument, and even if said argument were established, it would be laughable. Yet, I find this statement to be rather irritating, so I will address it, with an educated and researched approach, using unbiased sources.

First of all, a proper definition of socialism: “support for governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods” from Merriam-Webster.

Now, we must investigate Obama’s administration and its involvement in the economic collapse following the tumultuous year of 2008. The economy was shrinking at a frightening speed, and any president would have intervened to save the country at the discretion of this nation’s top economists. If anything, the stimulus package was an indulgence in a hands-off approach to the banking crisis.

Obama’s trust in the banks was betrayed, however, and one particular instance should instill compunction among us citizens, with a particular uneasiness among socialists themselves. It was March 15, 2009, when news broke out that executives at AIG would receive millions of dollars in bonuses allocated from the stimulus package.

In addition, taking control of car companies, to save jobs, is still not socialism. In fact, when the government took control of the failing companies in 2009, and fired certain CEO’s, they sold the shares as quickly and feasibly as possible. Wouldn’t a socialist government retain these companies?

Where, then, do we look for signs of socialism in the Obama administration? Perhaps it is hidden within Obama’s tax policies. The taxing of the top earners in our country would certainly bring about suspicions of wealth redistribution, indicative of socialism. However, Obama’s top two income tax rates, 36 and 39.5 percent, would still fall well below the tax rates we have had over the past six decades.

The top rates were at 90 percent or more from the ’40s to the ’60s, an age defined by its resentment of communism and socialism. In fact, Ronald Reagan, the champion of the right, cut the top tax rates down to 48 and 50 percent, and upped capital gains taxes from 20 to 28 percent. In addition, provisioning tax breaks for lower classes is merely a progressive economic technique.

Obama’s comparably weak tax policies, compounded by the variety of tax loopholes, would be contemptible under a socialist program.

If Obama isn’t a socialist under his tax policies, then maybe he is under his healthcare mandates, requiring almost every American to have insurance. If the Affordable Care Act were socialism, it wouldn’t have an opt-out system for states effective in 2017.

Obama merely restructured the healthcare system, going nowhere near the extent of socialism. In fact, it is strikingly moderate. For instance, Romneycare is quite similar to Obamacare, in that it relies heavily on private insurers.

The “Obama is a socialist” claim is factually untrue. The stimulus packages, tax policies, and healthcare mandates offer up flimsy evidence for a socialist administration. Alas, epithets replace evidence nowadays. It is quite easy to sway an uneducated crowd to succumb to the same ideological dogma.

But to say this would be to slander some of the rational thinkers of the Conservative party. Leaders such as Conservative economist Bruce Bartlett states: “Socialism means public ownership of the means of production. Obama does not believe this. Therefore he is not a socialist.” Even Ron Paul, the libertarian candidate, claims that Obama isn’t a socialist; rather, he is “corporatist.” Politifact rates the “Obama is a socialist” claim as a “pants on fire” falsity.

I have yet to see any conclusive evidence from anybody making this claim, and I will probably never receive the evidence, since it’s not true. It seems that our citizenry tends to jump to conclusions about policies it has no knowledge about. I am hostile towards these people who feel they can make their claims truth simply by reciting it over and over again. These people threaten the intellectual foundations of our country.

So, I ask you, reader, be skeptical of me, and go out and do the research on your own. Find the truth.