Why Obama Can't Close the SaleBy AL HUBBARD and NOAM NEUSNER
September 3, 2008; Page A23
Even before John McCain shook up the presidential race by tapping Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate, polls weren't showing the late-August lead that Barack Obama (and many Republicans) expected. Why so?
It's not because of the brilliance of the McCain campaign. Rather we believe that -- despite the media's best efforts to exempt Mr. Obama's policies from critical examination -- American voters aren't sheep. They pay attention to the candidates and positions and make wise decisions about who should lead the country.
True, Mr. Obama enjoys several advantages. Republicans are struggling nationwide in head-to-head contests. Democrats lead in voter registration, and have a well-funded presidential candidate.
Yet Americans have not committed to Mr. Obama. Why?
Clearly, Mr. Obama's weakness on foreign policy is a factor. He has a knee-jerk preference for diplomacy with China, Europe and Russia over the security of the American people and our closest allies. He hasn't explained his shifting positions on Iraq and Iran, among other hot spots. And he felt compelled to make up for his experience gap with Mr. McCain by picking Sen. Joe Biden to be his running mate.
But here's the thing: It's not that Mr. Obama hasn't been specific enough in his governing plans. To the contrary, he has been very specific about his tax policy, health-care and energy proposals. It's that voters are paying attention and appear not to like what Candidate Obama is saying.
Mr. Obama has proposed a massive tax increase on investors, business owners, and the "wealthy." At a time when the American people rate the economy as the central issue of the campaign, a tax hike doesn't make a lot of political sense. Voters know that a tax hike won't help the economy.
Moreover, Mr. Obama's tax plans would directly or indirectly harm U.S. investors by raising the capital gains and dividend taxes. More than half of U.S. households are equity owners, so Mr. Obama's proposal risks alienating half the population.
Mr. Obama claims to offer a tax cut to moderate-income families, but a significant portion of Mr. Obama's tax plan is a welfare giveaway costing more than $648 billion over 10 years, according to the Tax Policy Center.
How so? He would authorize a hodgepodge of refundable tax credits covering everything from education, mortgage payments, child care and other items for people who do not pay income taxes now.
About 38% of U.S. households pay no income tax today. Under a President Obama (whose policies would shave 15.3 million households off the tax rolls) that share would grow to nearly half of all American households.
We have been repeatedly told that everyone should pay their fair share. So this sounds grossly unfair and like a return of tax-and-spend liberal economics. No wonder there is a lot of doubt about the wisdom of the junior senator from Illinois.
Mr. Obama's health-care proposal is not quite HillaryCare, but it comes close. A national health insurance, heavily subsidized by taxpayers, would be offered to the currently uninsured. Mr. Obama's instincts on health care are always to move more people onto rolls of government-paid and government-mandated insurance, while depriving the marketplace the oxygen it needs for greater innovation, life-saving cures, and efficiency.
Americans have heard the refrain for government-provided health care before and know an expensive government giveaway when they see it.
Mr. Obama's energy policy is to drill less, consume less, tax more, and spend more. With barely a nod to nuclear energy -- the only meaningfully large, carbon-free source of domestic energy -- he is promising a massive increase in domestic, noncarbon-based energy from sources that produce only a fraction of our energy now.
He has also proposed massive tax increases on U.S. oil and gas companies while continuing to cut off vast swaths of U.S. territory to drilling.
Again, Americans are wiser than they are given credit. They know that if you restrict supply and tax production, prices go up.
The economic wisdom of Americans should not be doubted. They can see through Mr. Obama's proposals. They know that they will have to pick up the bill if Mr. Obama sends checks to people who already don't pay taxes; they know a centralized government-controlled health-care system will be more expensive, less efficient, and less friendly to patients and doctors. They know that the most effective way to bring down energy prices is by keeping all our energy options open, including more drilling in the U.S.
And they know that if a candidate has spent his entire career taxing more and spending more, that's what you'll get -- and more of it.
Mr. Obama is wondering why he can't shake Mr. McCain. His problem isn't his plans for the campaign. It's his plans for governing the country. Americans just aren't buying into them.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Interesting article on Obama's failure to launch...