Have you noticed a change in Barack Obama’s campaign? Instead of avoiding controversies over values, religion and race, he seems to welcome them and he wades into the debates with an increasing enthusiasm.
Characterizing how the Republicans will attack him, he predicted that they would criticize his “funny name” and add “and by the way, did you notice that he’s black?”
Obama used to go out of his way to avoid this kind of reference, but now he brings it on. Deliberately.
Obama and the conservative right are mutually trying to keep the debate about his candidacy on the existential level — is he the hope for America’s future or a Manchurian Candidate, a kind of sleeper agent sent to destroy our democracy?
That debate, which pits Obama’s rhetoric against the Rev. Wright’s rantings, is a contest that could go on all day, and Obama would win it. It is simply a bridge too far to believe that Obama is that evil and that invidious. But the more the debate covers such fundamental questions, the more it ignores the details — details which could bring Obama down.
Quite simply, Obama would rather address his religious views and his optimism about America and his embrace of diversity than talk about his plans to raise taxes, let gasoline prices soar, and socialize healthcare.
In our new book, "Fleeced," we try to bring the debate back down to earth, focusing on the specific plans that Obama has announced during his presidential primary campaign and discussing the consequences. This is the debate Barack Obama hopes he can avoid.
Consider his proposals:In effect, he would legislate a 60 percent tax bracket for upper-income Americans, killing all initiative and innovation. He’d raise the top bracket to 40 percent. He’d apply FICA taxes to all income, not just that under $100,000 as at present.
So add 40 percent plus FICA’s 12.5 percent plus Medicare’s 2 percent plus state and local taxes averaging, after deduction, at 5 percent-6 percent, and you have a 60 percent bracket.He would double the capital gains tax, saddling the 50 percent of Americans who own stock with dramatically higher taxes.He’d double the dividend tax, hitting elderly coupon-clippers now retired and depending on fixed incomes.He wants to cover 12 million illegal immigrants with federally subsidized health insurance, dramatically driving up costs and forcing federal rationing of healthcare. As in the U.K. and Canada, you will not be permitted certain medical procedures if the bureaucrats decide you are not worth it.He proposes requiring Homeland Security operatives to notify terror suspects that they are under investigation within seven days of starting the investigation.He says that unless they can establish that there is “probable cause to believe that a certain individual is linked to a specific terrorist group,” Homeland Security cannot seize his documents and search his business. The current standard is only that the search be “relevant” to a terror investigation.
He does not oppose $5-per-gallon gasoline but only says that he wishes there had been a more “gradual adjustment” to the higher prices.
Obama can talk about the Rev. Wright and flag lapel pins and his wife’s love of America all day long. But what he resists is a specific discussion of his own plans for our country. That’s the discussion he fears and he avoids. And it’s the discussion John McCain must force upon him if he is to have any realistic chance of winning the election.
© Dick Morris & Eileen McGann