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Thursday, March 5, 2009

I'm not touching you, I'm not touching....

Years before my birth, God placed Clive Crook on this planet solely with me in mind, that may I grow up to have someone to annoy the shit out of me by the time I became literate and potty-trained.

That time has come.
Budget reveals the liberal Obama

Barack Obama’s first budget is a revelation. The US president’s plans will not come to pass in the form he suggests. Congress writes the laws and will make a hash of it. Still, this first full statement of intentions speaks volumes, and leaves me in a paradoxical position. On one hand, I admire much of what the budget says. On the other, I feel I owe Republicans an apology.
He's liberal? Do go on.
As you recall, in the debate over the fiscal stimulus, Republicans accused the president of presenting a measure they could not support, disguising this with an empty show of co-operation. Bipartisanship, they said, is more than inviting your opponents round for coffee and a chat. I did not buy it: I accused them, in effect, of brainless rejectionism and a refusal to compromise, and congratulated the president for trying to come to terms with the other side.
Brainless. Yes. Continue.
This budget says the Republicans had Mr Obama right all along. The draft contains no trace of compromise. It makes no gesture, however small, however costless to its larger agenda, of a bipartisan approach to the great questions it addresses. It is a liberal’s dream of a new New Deal.
Um, is Crook willing to grant that the reason Obama's new proposals are less than compromising is because his efforts at bipartisanship went nowhere, precisely because of the "brainless rejectionism" he points out? Let's recall that the stimulus bill was originally designed to include a large percentage of non-stimulative tax cuts specifically to sate Republicans, and that the final version was needlessly weighed down with more, yet still it gained minimal support.

But from what I gather, Crook is upset that even after Republicans threw a temper tantrum over the stimulus, in which their primary objections to the bill made literally no sense, Obama didn't go out of his way to court them again, as if he's learned nothing from the experience. Pardon me for thinking that the actual lesson here was for Republicans, that by blowing off a genuine attempt to gather their input, its hardly shocking the courtesy isn't extended the next time around.

Crook then argues regarding Obama's liberal new New Dealie, with which he more or less agrees, is setting a bad precedent because for now he's only asking the wealthiest 5% to pay for it:
When Mr Obama turns to financing this historic initiative, however, he moves left. His budget pencils in roughly $80bn a year in new revenues from a carbon cap-and-trade system – another welcome innovation, by the way, in my view. Does he use those revenues to pay for the new healthcare reserve, or to close the deficit in outlying years? No, he uses them to make permanent the tax credits in the fiscal stimulus: rebates and subsidies tilted to the working poor. To pay for healthcare reform, the plan curbs Medicare payments to private providers and, unexpectedly, reduces the value of income-tax deductions claimed by the better off.

So as well as reversing the Bush tax cuts for households making more than $250,000 a year, as promised during the campaign, the budget comes up with another way to extract tax from high earners. All but 5 per cent of households will pay “not a dime” for the panoply of public investments in the blueprint.

Take this budget at face value, and when Mr Obama talks about “a new era of responsibility” he does not mean: “We are all in this together.” He means: “The rich are responsible for this mess and it is payback time.” Leftist Democrats are thrilled, and rightly so. The budget has three themes: healthcare reform, public investment and unflinching redistribution. This is indeed a new social contract: we get, they pay. Liberals never had it so good.
Yes, everyone's taxes will have to go up eventually, fair enough. But how does the above square with what he just said? How does Obama call for higher taxes for everyone, and, at the same time, court Republicans who will no doubt lunge at the chance to support universal healthcare, universal tax hikes, and they're favorite, a cap-and-trade emissions program. What fucking planet are you on, dude? Two months into the presidency, I'm going to have to give Obama a pass for not striding out to the podium in his Mao suit vowing to RAISE EVERYONE'S TAXES FOREVER.

Lastly, Crook lays bare his pathological hatred of hippies, which I share, but nevertheless clouds his judgment, much like a cloud of patchouli and unwashed hair smell.
Tactically speaking, Mr Obama may have overdone it. If I were advising him, I would say that the elation of his party’s progressive wing is a red flag. It mocks the president’s claim to be a consensus-builder, and tells the centre to watch out. Keep the left unhappy, would be my counsel.
Hm, yes, brilliant. Piss off the people who vote for you. Suck off the people who will never vote for you. Build consensus where there will never be any. Clive Crook is Machiavelli's retarded third cousin.


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