Specific Obama Criticisms (Socialism) -- Counterpoints?

I know Dopers have got much better Google-fu than I do, and I’m betting these questions have been answered already (perhaps here?).

I’ve been debating with a Republican friend and she’s got some criticisms of Obama’s policies. We’ve gone from debunking ridiculous email rumors to a more substantive discussion, which really thrills me; I’d like to get back to her ASAP w/cites. But this is an especially busy day for me and the kids.

If anybody has a minute to respond to these points, I’d really appreciate it (and will spread it elsewhere) (hint: I live in a red-but-considering-blue state):

  • What is the scoop on the Wall Street Journal’s editorial concerning paying money to people who haven’t paid taxes? This $500 or $1000 “credit”? (I saw an article mentioning the Journal’s piece and couldn’t figure out WHAT this credit really means)
  • What is the difference between Obama and socialism (I* knew** this was going to come up when he said “spread the wealth” at the debates, I cringed) (the Tribune ran a piece yesterday from the socialists saying “Obama’s not one of us” but that was it, there was nothing substantive to it*)
    The 60% Tax Canard (I’ve already explained the 39% post $250k part):
  • 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 5-6 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… 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 does not oppose $5-per-gallon gasoline but only says that he wishes there had been a more “gradual adjustment” to the higher prices.

source: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/06/obamas_new_strategy.html

  • What about Obama’s “socialist & communist mentors”? Did he campaign for his cousin’s “socialist” political agenda in Kenya?

  • What’s with the Global Poverty Act?

"WASHINGTON, February 13, 2008 – Accuracy in Media editor Cliff Kincaid disclosed today that a hugely expensive bill called the “Global Poverty Act,” sponsored by Democratic Senator Barack Obama, was quickly passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday and could result in the imposition of a global tax on the United States. Kincaid said that the major media’s cover-up of the bill, which makes levels of U.S. foreign aid spending subservient to the dictates of the United Nations, demonstrates the media’s desire to see Senator Obama elected to the presidency.

AIM recently disclosed that Obama has well-documented socialist connections, which help explain why he sponsored a “Global Poverty Act” designed to send hundreds of billions of dollars of U.S. foreign aid to the rest of the world, in order to meet U.N. demands. The bill has passed the House and a Senate committee, and awaits full Senate action."

http://www.aim.org/aim-column/obamas-communist-mentor/ (full article here)

I don’t know how it works in the rest of Canada, but here in Ontario you have basic essential procedures covered by OHIP (the government, basically); other non-essential stuff can be covered by your health insurance, or paid for. Nobody gets denied care. Yes, you may have to wait a long time to get care, in specific cases–our system isn’t perfect and we’re working on it, but it’s still pretty damn good.

This is a great thing to say. We need to move, as an economy and as a planet, away from gasoline and towards more viable alternatives–electric, solar, wind, hydro, nuclear; public transit, biking, walking–and if we’d had a bit more of a gradual adjustment upwards, we’d be eased into the process of changing our infrastructure rather than have to deal with it all at once.

I think this will do better in Great Debates, so I’ve moved it.

Republicans have been touting that Democrats, in general, are socialist in nature. They are Robin Hood types who want to take from the rich and give to the poor. That and the old “tax and spend liberal” meme.

It is worth noting that the economy has prospered notably better under Democratic administrations than Republican ones (distinctly and provably so…see Paul Krugman, most recent Nobel Prize winner for economics on the book Unequal Democracy). Further, seeking to even the playing field is not “socialism”. As it stands, since 1980, 80% of net income gains has gone to the top 1% wealthiest people (cite). That is a huge imbalance that needs to be addressed. Trickle Down Economics I think has soundly been shown to be a disaster. Rebalancing incentives to the middle/lower classes is NOT Socialism.

As to your tax claims:

So, hardly the doubling/sky is falling claim made by your friend and your friend would still be better off than she was under Reagan as far as taxes go.

While it is correct that some 40% of people do not pay income tax, they do pay taxes everywhere. Between sales tax, gasoline taxes, property taxes, local tax, FICA, things like local “amusement” taxes, etc. everyone pays taxes. Making the tax credit refundable, meaning the payer doesn’t just get to apply it toward what they would owe with any leftover not added to the return, it is possible for the government to actually pay out any of the credit that is “left over” toward a person’s return. Making credits refundable is essentially a way of cutting taxes for people who don’t pay income tax but are still hit with lots of taxes elsewhere.

To quote freakin’ wikipedia: “Socialism refers to a broad set of economic theories of social organization advocating state or collective ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and the creation of an egalitarian society.” Obama is not proposing this. Not even close. Raising the top rate from 36% to 39% is not socialism.

To address the spread the wealth comment,** I think this is the most important aspect of his quote**. Obama said it in reference to the fact that while income above $250,000 would be taxed slightly higher, it would be a net improvement for Joe the Plumber, because the tax cut on 95% of taxpayers would mean he’d have many more customers who could afford to hire him. Let’s be clear here, Obama is not an idiot or a socialist. There are times when cuts for the wealthy will benefit the economy and there are times when cuts for the middle/lower classes will benefit the economy. If people don’t have enough disposable income to spend, the economy suffers. If lots of people are being squeezed by inflation, high gas prices, higher food prices, etc then it makes sense to lower their taxes. Even if the wealthiest pay a bit more, Obama and his advisors (see below) clearly believe it will benefit EVERYONE in the long run. Read his whole quote to see what he actually said to JtP before the “Spread the wealth” comment.

Also not true. He’d apply FICA taxes to those making over $250,000 and not on all income. The fact that payroll taxes are capped at $100,000 is an insanely regressive system–it hits the poor much harder than the rich. It is about time a politician addressed the regressive nature and the double taxation effect (you are taxed by FICA and then pay income tax on your gross income, not post-FICA income) on the poor/middle class.

Untrue. People whose income is above $250,000 would pay 20% on the amount over $250,000 instead of the 15% rate currently paid by everyone. As he told JtP, small businesses would not be affected.

Again, untrue.

Already covered and patently untrue. You will note that bureaucrats ALREADY decide if your procedures are not worth it; they are the bureaucrats for your insurance company. Obama would seek tax credits for businesses that provide private insurance for their employees and would allow people to have access to the same government health care federal employees get. It would not be a single payer system. It would not ban private insurance–in some sense, it encourages it. People who have access to insurance will keep it. The uninsured will no longer drive up everyone else’s rates up.

As covered already, yes, this is true. So what? It’s a given with a finite commodity that prices WILL go up over time. It would be better for all of us if the rise were gradual and we had time to adjust and invest in alternate fuels and more fuel efficient vehicles. This is a huge point in Obama’s platform–investing in a foreign-oil free economy. Dancing around the fact that gas prices will, in the long run, go up is too short-sighted.

He doesn’t have communist and socialist mentors. He has advisors like Warren Buffett. In fact, Obama’s economic advisors have been drawing angst from the left for their free trade views. Of his chief economic advisor, Austan Goolsbee, George Will, of all people, said: “Goolsbee no doubt has lots of dubious ideas–he is, after all, a Democrat–about how government can creatively fiddle with the market’s allocation of wealth and opportunity. But he seems to be the sort of person–amiable, empirical and reasonable–you would want at the elbow of a Democratic president, if such there must be.” The left is a bit concerned about Obama’s economic advisors, for their centrist, free trade views. Cite

Wikipedia is your friend.

The bill allocates no funding and is designed to help direct US Foreign Aid into poverty reduction. It has bipartisan Cosponsors like Chuck Hagel and Olympia Snowe and has nothing to do with UN “Demands”. This is not “communism” or any other crazy terms you could apply to it. Argue the merits of the bill, sure, but I at least don’t think having the US implementing a strategy of helping to alleviate global poverty is a terrible idea. It could lead to new trading partners and general economic growth. Calling it a “global tax” is stupidly alarmist and has nothing to do with actual issues. The UN is not involved or anything of the like–it would be the prerogative of the president to determine funding levels and how to implement the strategy.