The Scapegoat Strategy
Charles Krauthammer – National Review -10/14/2011
What do you do if you can’t run on your record — on 9 percent unemployment, stagnant growth, and ruinous deficits as far as the eye can see? How to run when you are asked whether Americans are better off than they were four years ago and you are compelled to answer no?
Play the outsider. Declare yourself the underdog. Denounce Washington as if the electorate hasn’t noticed that you’ve been in charge of it for nearly three years.
But above all: Find villains.
President Obama first tried finding excuses, blaming America’s dismal condition on Japanese supply-chain interruptions, the Arab Spring, European debt, and various acts of God.
Didn’t work. Sounds plaintive, defensive. Lacks fight, which is what Obama’s base lusts for above all.
Hence Obama’s new strategy: Don’t whine, blame. Attack. Indict. Accuse. Whom? The rich — and their Republican protectors — for wrecking America.
In Obama’s telling, it’s the refusal of the rich to “pay their fair share” that jeopardizes Medicare. If millionaires don’t pony up, schools will crumble. Oil-drilling tax breaks are costing teachers their jobs. Corporate loopholes will gut medical research.
It’s crude. It’s Manichaean. And the Left loves it. As a matter of math and logic, however, it’s ridiculous. Obama’s most coveted tax hike — an extra 3 to 4.6 percent for millionaires and billionaires (weirdly defined as individuals making over $200,000) — would have reduced last year’s deficit from $1.29 trillion to $1.21 trillion. Nearly a rounding error. The oil-drilling breaks cover less than half a day’s federal spending. You could collect Obama’s favorite tax loophole — depreciation for corporate jets — for 100 years and it wouldn’t cover one month of Medicare, whose insolvency is a function of increased longevity, expensive new technology, and wasteful defensive medicine caused by an insane malpractice system.