Almost every time I see Barack Obama on television, he’s standing at a podium with the word “CHANGE” emblazoned across it.
It’s a powerful, subliminal message repeated again and again. There is no doubt that he owns the “change” mantra. But change in and of itself isn’t necessarily a good thing.
In fact, if you dig deep, beyond the sloganeering, you will find that the change Obama is calling for could prove to be harmful.
Americans are certainly desperate for change. The credit crisis is deepening. The slump in home sales and home prices shows no signs of easing. Energy costs are skyrocketing. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue at a cost to us of more than $12 billion a month.
More than ever before, Americans believe the country is on the wrong track. An AP-Ipsos poll in mid-June found that 76 percent of respondents believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction. A CBS poll found that 81 percent agree with that view.
But a close look at Obama’s plans as president shows a prescription for disaster.
With consumers ever so tight for cash as gas prices have soared, Obama is calling for — you won’t believe this — more taxes on gasoline. And Obama will only worsen the country’s consumer cash crunch when he raises capital gains tax from 15 percent to as much as 28 percent — a tax hike of almost 100 percent.
No matter that history teaches us that tax cuts increase economic activity and spur the economy. In fact, each of the three major capital gains tax cuts, under Presidents Kennedy, Reagan, and Clinton, were followed by booming stock prices, a surging economy — and even increased government revenues.
Add to the mix that President Obama will also automatically raise taxes when he lets the Bush tax cuts expire in 2010.
Obama also wants to impose a 10.2 percent payroll tax surcharge on all income of more than $200,000. The effect would be to raise overall income tax rates to 50 percent for higher-income people, and convert Social Security from a retirement system into a giant income-redistribution scheme.
If Obama had his way, marginal income tax rates for those at the top of the income scale could rise to their highest levels since the 1970s — a period of profound economic stagnation.
Obama would seek to impose a payroll tax surcharge on employers who do not provide healthcare benefits to employees, which would do serious harm to small businesses.
Obama’s “change” program also calls for increased government regulation of the financial markets and the healthcare industry. The inevitable long-term result of Obama’s approach to healthcare would be the adoption of European-style socialized care and rationing.
On trade, Obama has called for a re-examination of the NAFTA free-trade agreements with Canada and Mexico. He has also proposed higher taxes on corporations with subsidiaries abroad, which would cause them to lose market share to foreign rivals.
Thankfully, Republican John McCain has not proposed the sweeping changes Obama is calling for. For one thing, McCain wants to keep the best of President Bush’s legacy, retaining the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, which have helped stimulate the economy.
McCain would also be unlikely to change the Republicans’ policy of minimizing government regulation. And while I disagree with the Bush administration’s insistence on a long-term U.S. presence in Iraq, there is no question that the war on terror must continue, and McCain is better suited to keep America vigilant against our enemies.
Change for change’s sake, then, is not going to set this country back on the right track. The changes that Obama is loudly touting, in reality, amount to the old left-wing ploys that have failed in the past: big government, increased regulation, and higher taxes.
Change for the better? I doubt it.
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