Obama and the Socialism Charge

Obama and the Socialism Charge

I’m interested in how one can take a rather ordinary set of proposals and make them incendiary just by providing a label. And sorry, my conservative friends, I don’t buy into the “but he really is a socialist” line. The basis of the socialism charge is specific–Obama’s tax plans–and a response to that particular point is what is needed.

This charge has been one of the many reasons my respect for McCain has deteriorated over the course of this campaign. The fact is that both campaigns are supported tax proposals that redistribute. We’ve had them for decades, and very, very few people would support completely getting rid of any redistributive element in the tax plan.

Flat taxers? Actually not such a totally bad idea, though I think if people looked at their proposed tax bill under flat tax, they might be less excited about it. But you know that exemption of a certain amount of income under a flat tax plan? That’s redistribution.

Alexander Lane of Politifact covers the major points in an article on CQPolitics, Sorting Out the Truth on McCain’s “Socialism” Allegations. McCain, Palin, and the Republican base are just plain abusing the word “socialist.”

PS: Yes, I know this source is biased–it’s biased against the Republican bias.

2 thoughts on “Obama and the Socialism Charge

  1. Hi Henry,

    I tried to leave a fairly lengthy comment and I got a message saying that my comment appeared too spammy. Do you have some kind of new filter installed? I would be happy to e-mail my comment so you can see what I was saying that might have set it off. I don’t know your e-mail – you can send it to my e-mail if you want.



  2. Well how can I, who consider myself a conservative friend resist commenting on this?

    First of all, I would agree that a base definition of economic socialism, where the means of production are placed under care of the government is not what Obama is driving at.

    However, the sense that I would consider Obama a socialist, it is his preference to use government to redistribute private wealth specifically to affect a more egalitarian economic condition for a countries citizen. In my mind that qualifies him as a socialist as opposed to a capitalist who is content to let the free market operate to change peoples economic circumstances.

    My thinking on this matter is informed by F.A. Hayek, who warned against the kind of thinking Obama uses, which is essentially summed up by Hayek arguing that the social control over distribution of wealth and private property advocated by socialists cannot be achieved without reduced prosperity for the general populace, and a loss of political and economic freedoms.

    It is based on that, that I feel the charge of socialist is fair in regards to his tax policy in which he specifically stated that he wanted to take the increased tax revenue from only the wealthy and rebate that amount to the poor in some manner. It’s a forced redistribution by the government which in my mind is a socialist as opposed to capitalist policy.

    Another thing that bothers me about Obama’s presentation is that he implies that he is giving a tax cut, when he is in fact not doing so, he is simply raising taxes from one group and redistributing that to another in the form of a rebate or credit. It is not a lowering of the tax rate for people. Why do it that way?

    Alas, It is too bad that socialist has such a negative stigma attached to it because of the soviet union, but in light of the recent market disasters, we should at least be having honest conversations about whether some form of socialism is helpful. I happen to think not, but the debate shouldn’t become about visceral reactions to using an emotionally charged word.

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