October 27, 2008

Pete Du Pont Predicts A Europeanized America

In terms of largely economic policy, Pete Du Pont's alarmist forecast for the Obama Administration sounds pretty expensive to me:
So where is the new Obama administration likely to take us? Seven things seem certain:
  • The U.S. military will withdraw from Iraq quickly and substantially, regardless of conditions on the ground or the obvious consequence of emboldening terrorists there and around the globe.
  • Protectionism will become our national trade policy; free trade agreements with other nations will be reduced and limited.
  • Income taxes will rise on middle- and upper-income people and businesses, and individuals will pay much higher Social Security taxes, all to carry out the new president's goals of "spreading the wealth around."
  • Federal government spending will substantially increase. The new Obama proposals come to more than $300 billion annually, for education, health care, energy, environmental and many other programs, in addition to whatever is needed to meet our economic challenges. Mr. Obama proposes more than a 10% annual spending growth increase, considerably higher than under the first President Bush (6.7%), Bill Clinton (3.3%) or George W. Bush (6.4%).
  • Federal regulation of the economy will expand, on everything from financial management companies to electricity generation and personal energy use.
  • The power of labor unions will substantially increase, beginning with repeal of secret ballot voting to decide on union representation.
  • Free speech will be curtailed through the reimposition of the Fairness Doctrine to limit the conservative talk radio that so irritates the liberal establishment.
These policy changes will be the beginning of the Europeanization of America. There will be many more public policy changes with similar goals—nationalized health care, Kyoto-like global-warming policies, and increased education regulation and spending.

Additional tax advantages for lower and middle income people will be enacted: a 10% mortgage tax credit that would average about $500 per household per year, a $4,000 tax credit for college tuition, a tax credit covering half of child-care expenses up to $6,000 per year, and even a $7,000 credit for purchase of a clean car.

More important, all but the clean car credit would be "refundable," meaning people will get a check for them if they owe no taxes, which is simply a transfer of income from the government to individuals. In reality this is the beginning of a new series of entitlements for middle-class families, the longer-term effect of which will be to make those families more dependent on (and so more supportive of) larger government. The Tax Policy Center estimates that these refundable tax credits would cost the government $648 billion over 10 years.
Here's the part that sounds really dismal to me -- I don't think Obama can pull us out of Iraq nearly as quickly as Du Pont predicts. Logistically, it can't be done, even if the political will is there.

I also have my doubts about the Fairness Doctrine, but then again it wouldn't cost that much to do one way or the other and it would make one segment of Obama's constituency happy to see it implemented. It would be every bit as obnoxious as the Nipple Patrol that's been in charge of communications under the Bush Administration. And Obama seems cool on the idea right now.

Federal regulation will expand? Duh. When Republicans trot out their pro-regulatory credentials in response to a financial mess on Wall Street, that's pretty much carte blanche for those who do not have any skepticism of government involvement in the market to jump on in there and regulate away. There's no effective anti-regulation political force out there.

I can see Obama trying for some of those economic and tax reform proposals, though. There's a lot of goodies in there and they can be spun to sound good. But budget hawks should know what giving the farm away looks like and this would be it.

Now, a guy like Pete Du Pont is not exactly an unbiased source, and he is writing for the Wall Street Journal. So bear in mind the source -- what you're reading here are conservative fears. Given that some of those fears are without grounding, and some are solidly-grounded, the real questions are, how much of this will actually come to pass and how much is it going to cost us?


Michael Reynolds said...

As I understand it the Fairness Doctrine would require one Democrat nipple for every Republican nipple.

By the way? Your verification word for this was maddow. Hmmm.

Burt Likko said...

Well, I am pro-nipple. So maybe this wouldn't be such a bad thing.