A Philosopher's Blog

The Cliff

Posted in Business, Ethics, Law, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on December 31, 2012

As I am writing this, the Democrats and Republicans are still driving towards the fiscal cliff. Interestingly, the cliff is a death trap of their own creation, forged to spur them into acting because the consequences of not doing so would be so terrible. We are now in the last hours before the country goes off the cliff, so there is still time for a deal. Or a delay-essentially changing roads to the scenic route towards the cliff.

Crudely put, the main sticking point has been the tax cuts for a tiny percentage of rich Americans. The Republicans, it could be said, would rather take us over the cliff than willingly allow the Bush era tax cuts to expire for the exceptionally rich. The Democrats, it could be said, would rather take us over the cliff than willingly extend the Bush tax cuts for the tiny percentage of Americans that are very wealthy. A few folks actually think that going over the cliff would be a good idea-something that is certainly worth considering.

Since politics is often about placing blame, it is worth assessing whether the Democrats or Republicans are worse in regards to this matter. It is, of course, tempting to simply curse them both for being unwilling to drive away from the cliff months ago. However, the Republicans seem somewhat worse in that they are apparently devoted to protecting a tiny percentage of Americans who are already exceptionally well off. After all, even if the wealthy lost those tax cuts, they would still be taking home vastly more money than the vast majority of Americans. That is, they would still be incredibly well off. I must admit, that I am seeing the matter from the perspective of a person whose yearly salary is about equal to what Mitt Romney makes per day from his passive income. I have, as might be imagined, a hard time worrying that folks like Mitt will be hurt if those tax cuts are allowed to expire. However, I can worry about the folks who make a lot less-after all, many folks are literally just getting by with what they have and hence an increase in taxes will hurt them in meaningful ways. I do not, however, regard the Democrats as virtuous in this matter-just less bad.

One of my main complaints about the matter is the fact that they have left things to the last minute. As a professor, I am accustomed to students doing this. In some cases, students do put things off in one class because they are doing work for another class. However, congress lacks this excuse-they only have this country to run (off the cliff). In other cases, students wait to the last minute because the professor sets the deadline rather than the student. However, congress set its own deadline-they know exactly when it is and what will happen if they do not act (or add an extension). In most cases, students put things off because they would rather not do the work. As long as it is not due right away, a person can always say “I’ll do it latter.” However, there comes a time when there is no latter. We are at this point now.

When a student puts off work to the last minute, the results are generally quite predictable: usually such work is of far lower quality than could have been produced if the work had been started at a reasonable time. If congress hacks out a last second deal, I suspect it will have roughly the same quality as a paper typed out in the last minutes. Unless, of course, they already have most of the work done and are just delaying in regards to a small part.

One rather important difference between a student putting things off and congress putting things off is that the student is putting only herself (her grade) at risk. If a student does not meet the deadline, she does not bring the whole class down with her. In contrast, congress putting things off has already had an effect on the economy-primarily by creating intense and unnecessary uncertainty. If a deal cannot be made, the consequences will obviously be far worse than a student not getting her paper done by the deadline.  Also, we get to pay the cost for congress’ procrastination and apparent inability to do its job.

It could, of course, be argued that we do get some of the blame. After all, we elected the members of congress and they act in ways they believe will get them re-elected. That is, they act in ways they think will please their constituents (which can be distinct from acting in ways that will benefit their constituents). One of the moral pluses of democracy is that we get the government we deserve. So, if our elected officials are driving us towards a cliff, it is because we handed them the keys.

The extreme partisanship is also something that has been fed and watered by others. The politically leaning news media on the left and right has contributed to this situation. The people have also played along, thus helping to get us on the edge of the cliff.

It is also worth noting that many of the Republicans signed Grover Norquist’s pledge. While it is reasonable to point out that elected officials should not make themselves beholding to one man, a person should honor his commitments. As such, the Republicans who are sticking to the pledge and refusing to compromise could be seen as acting in a moral way-assuming they are doing so on the principle that a person keeps his obligations. Those that are sticking to it from fear would not, of course, be acting in a commendable way.

 

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  1. WTP said, on December 31, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    Sigh….yet another essay from Mike about things the fundamentals of which he doesn’t even begin to understand. Get an education before you pretend to lecture either Democrats or Republicans on financial concepts.

    I have repeatedly tried to engage you in discussions on these matters but you prefer ignorance, even to the point of chiming in with one of even greater ignorance in the character(s) of biomass. The latter can be excused as someone with no commitment to the pursuit of knowledge. But for someone with a PhD from a (supposedly) esteemed institution of higher learning like Ohio State, such disdain for understanding is downright shameful.

    • biomass2 said, on January 1, 2013 at 10:42 am

      The topic was, believe it or not, “When is it Time to Discuss Gun Violence.” 12/17

      At Dec. 20 8:31 I wrote:
      “Now, I didn’t ask for an “economic” explanation. All I said was that ‘Help me here. I never had Econ I. And this post may prove that.’ . What in the world led in those three sentences led you to believe that I wanted an economic explanation, since Mike’s statement was directed at a (kind of) approach to gun violence, and your response was, well, one you’ve given before. Given what followed my request for an explanation, I don’t at all regret never having studied that glorious subject. As the gentleman in the livingeconomiesforum said , and quite accurately, I believe, “the vocabulary of finance is. . .doublespeak. ” What I wanted simply was an explanation that makes sense in terms of common English usage—not in terms of financial doublespeak
      Let’s parse your statement ” Shuffling money from one place to another does not ‘create’ jobs.” Is there a different definition for ‘create’ in finance?
      1/ Man earns money
      2/ Man spends money
      3/ The goods and services man purchases with his earnings must be provided by people who are hired to produce those goods and perform those services.
      Stop me if I’m wrong so far. . .
      4/ If , at some point, enough goods and services are purchased by enough people who have been paid with money that the manpower and equipment available are inadequate, more ^jobs are created^ to provide the services and produce the goods.
      A simple three- or-four-step shuffle of money ends up in ^job creation^.

      Now one can get caught up in endless quibbles over the economic/financial meanings of cash and wealth or somesuch, but to what end? If a guy puts $100,000,000 of his own cash on the table, is one going to split hairs over whether the guy got the money by selling off some of his ‘wealth’ —land, buildings, etc.or by speculating in the stock market? Seriously? The man has a lot of cash. He’s wealthy. ”

      I still haven’t gotten a clear explanation and defense of the statement “Shuffling money from one place to another does not ‘create’ jobs.”
      If anyone else on here can provide one, I wish he/she would.

    • biomass2 said, on January 3, 2013 at 6:13 pm

      From a non-WTP source:

      http://midimagic.sgc-hosting.com/wlthmony.htm

      “Money is used to store the Kinesian wealth a worker creates, to be held until he needs to use it.
      Money is a standard of value that is accepted over a wide area without question.”
      Using this basic idea I ask again how you can state so adamantly that ” Shuffling money from one place to another does not ‘create’ jobs.”
      This same source provides the following flow chart:

      http://midimagic.sgc-hosting.com/kinecono.htm

      Note, esp., “Marginally Productive Work Activities”

      Quite a few “marginally” subjective judgments here, I thought, but at least I could make sense of it.
      I assume that this those little arrows represent cash flowing. Wealth, in the form of ” food, fertile land, buildings, or other things that sustain us. ” could not, in any practical sense, be used to pay the people who are going to “store the Kinesian wealth a worker creates”. Could it? Our economy is far too sophisticated to return to a barter sytem, isn’t it?
      So:
      1/ Man earns money
      (from source above: that money (his “Kinesian wealth”—more economic doublespeak, I presume) may be held until the worker needs to use it)
      2/ Man spends money (when he needs to use it?)
      3/ The goods and services man purchases with his earnings/money must be provided by people who are hired to produce those goods and perform those services.
      4/ If , at some point, enough goods and services are purchased by enough people (people who have been paid with money, I presume), the manpower and equipment available to produce the goods and services might become inadequate. More ^jobs are created^ to provide the services and produce the goods.

      I’m assuming that in many—even most—cases a job does not exist before there is a need for it. Am I correct?. If not, is the job just sitting on the sidelines waiting for . . . .something?
      A simple three- or-four-step ^shuffle^ of money ends up in the creation of a job.

    • biomass2 said, on January 6, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      I think this may be relevant. A couple more non-WTP sources.
      WTP’s contention in a reply to MIchael is that ” Shuffling money from one place to another does not ‘create’ jobs.”

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/johntharvey/2012/10/22/government-creates-jobs/

      “Furthermore, the means by which public sector activity is financed is more complex than implied above. Not only do your taxes go to pay the salary of the fireman, but, when he spends it, his salary contributes to your wages. So who is supporting whom–is the government dependent on taxation of private sector salaries, or are private sector salaries dependent on sales to government institutions and employees? Obviously, they are largely interdependent and rely on the continuation of the flow between them. Largely, however, but not completely, for if one of the two can act with autonomy, it is the government.”
      So. Taxes pay fireman. Fireman spends money. Some shuffling there already.

      Read more of the following @

      http://www.businessinsider.com/rich-people-do-not-create-jobs-2011-12#ixzz2HE2uygqd

      The following sounds surprisingly like what I was writing:
      “The company’s customers buy the company’s products, which, in turn, creates the need for the employees to produce, sell, and service those products. If those customers go broke, the demand for the company’s products will collapse. And the jobs will disappear, regardless of what the entrepreneur does.”
      So. Customer (fireman, let’s say) buys product and that “creates the need for the employees” (jobs?).
      This still sounds to me like “shuffling money” from one place to another does, indeed, create jobs.

      Tinker to Evers to WTP? to Chance. Tinker’s money (taxes) go to Evers (fireman) then to WTP (retailer) then to Chance (new employees taken on to produce, sell, and service the product Evers bought and WTP sold.) Shuffle. Shuffle.
      How, WTP, is that not creating jobs by “shuffling money from one place to another”?

      • WTP said, on January 6, 2013 at 7:18 pm

        OK, this is my last response as I pity you’re wasting your time. You do not understand, nor from all previous discussions with you do I believe you have any genuine desire to understand, the fundamentals underlying even the arguments of the sources you quote. And unlike Mike, who is responsible for educating hundreds of students per year, whether or not you understand is irrelevant and a waste of time. I made a good faith effort to engage you in discussion on this topic and you mocked my effort. As you enjoy brining up discussions from years ago, I refer you to one of your previous replies to me from back then that went something to the effect of FYATHYRIO. Funny that didn’t disturb Mikey given his laser focus on presumed ad hominem attacks.

        • biomass2 said, on January 6, 2013 at 9:37 pm

          WTP: Are you sure this wasn’t your last last response? I
          “FYATHYRIO” :) I believe Mike is perfectly capable of understanding the ContexT of that statement. Apparently, you’re not.
          Allow me to refresh your memory a bit.

          I posted the following as erik on Jan 28 2011 SOTU Draft:
          “Oh—WTP: You responded to my post on Nov. 19-The Terrorists are Winning
          by referring to the “dipshit attitude” of liberals. That all came not too long after you had responded to one of MIKES’s posts: “Oh. Bull fucking shit.” I thought: “What uncommon variety of turd is this asshole?” But I didn’t write it, because generally, on this blog, people disagree, BUT NOT SO DISAGREEABLY. “**

          Simply stated, WTP, I was responding in kind to ‘your’ vulgarity. Simply explained, you began with DS and OBFS. I responded with FYATHYRIO. Understand now? That should clearly and succinctly explain why my FYATHYRIO didn’t set off Mike’s “laser focus on presumed ad hominem attacks (some sarcasm in that, right?) “.
          ***Do go back to that post in the January 2011 archives— Glenn Beck’s pic in the upper right corner. Caps added to assist understanding.

          Might I state that, if you truly believe the statement you made (” Shuffling money from one place to another does not ‘create’ jobs.”), you should be able to explain it in light of the information I’ve provided above from the forbes, businessleader, and midimagic.sgc-hosting sites I provided above. Take it one step at a time, if you will, beginning with “Man earns money.” Nothing you’ve provided has shown me anything other than that you have a different opinion about money and jobs than some other people have. Different, for example, than that stated on the sites I provided above.

        • biomass2 said, on February 2, 2013 at 11:07 am

          WTP:

          http://www.forbes.com/sites/johntharvey/2012/10/22/government-creates-jobs/

          “Not only do your taxes go to pay the salary of the fireman, but, when he spends it, his salary contributes to your wages. So who is supporting whom–is the government dependent on taxation of private sector salaries, or are private sector salaries dependent on sales to government institutions and employees? Obviously, they are largely interdependent and rely on the continuation of the flow between them. Largely, however, but not completely, for if one of the two can act with autonomy, it is the government. ”
          And note the last 2/3 of paragraph 2. And the last sentence of paragraph 1.

          That’s closely related to our discussion here @ When is it Time to Discuss Gun Violence/Dec 17 and follow up discussions we had related to this exchange:
          Mike ” Well, we could use homeland security funds to pay for the marshals. It would also create jobs.
          WTP: “Shuffling money from one place to another does not “create” jobs.”

          Too bad you chose to ignore my posts, else you could try again to explain to me why we shouldn’t take your response :for what it is.—at best a statement of your opinion and not a statement of fact, and at worst an opinion.based on a specific understanding of the term “jobs”. and their relative value and on a particular view of the role of government.
          In other words, instead of making a sincere attempt to teach someone who admitted to never having Econ.101, you were heavily politicizing the issue.

          • biomass2 said, on February 2, 2013 at 11:12 am

            Note: You can pretend you’re addressing your response to John T Harvey at Forbes if you wish.

  2. magus71 said, on January 1, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Obama is like the single mom who keeps heaping bags of chips and candy on her fat kid. She’s doing it because the stuff keeps him sedated.

    Where are Obama’s spending cuts, Mike? You left spending cuts out of the Republican agenda, and solely focused on tax hikes on the rich. Keep taxes low, cut spending, is this not a classic Republican stance, a stance which America has drifted further away with each passing decade, and now finds itself on disaster’s door?

    Interestingly, the fiscal cliff is merely a return to the Clinton-era tax and spending levels. Given that many believe Clinton’s years were an economic windfall, why wouldn’t we want to go over the cliff?

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323320404578212051282802358.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_MIDDLESecond

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on January 1, 2013 at 1:02 pm

      Some think it would be a good idea to do just that.

      I focused on the tax matter as the main point of contention and made it clear that I was putting things roughly. My main point here is that congress needs to stop delaying and get to making the tough decisions. They are like bad students, except we’ll be the ones to pay the price.

  3. T. J. Babson said, on January 1, 2013 at 10:35 am

    This is all a massive failure of leadership on O’s part. He is still mainly just trying to stick it to the GOP rather than leading the country to a better place.

    The “fiscal cliff” is a massive failure of presidential leadership. The tedious and technical negotiations are but a subplot in a larger drama. Government can no longer fulfill all the promises it has made to various constituencies. Some promises will be reduced or disavowed. Which ones? Why? Only the president can pose these questions in a way that starts a national conversation over the choices to be made, but doing so requires the president to tell people things they don’t want to hear. That’s his job: to help Americans face unavoidable, if unpleasant, realities. Barack Obama has refused to play this role.

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/01/01/obamas_leadership_failure_116559.html

    • magus71 said, on January 1, 2013 at 11:22 am

      Wait until the health care reform takes hold. Wasn’t that supposed to save us money? Bet it won’t.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on January 1, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      The last I checked, congress has a role in this process.

      • T. J. Babson said, on January 1, 2013 at 10:49 pm

        O compares himself to Lincoln, so maybe he should lead for a change instead of voting “present.”

        Most members of Congress are responding efficiently to the popular will. A large number of reactionary Democrats reject any measure to touch Medicare or other entitlement programs. A large number of impotent Republicans talk about reducing the debt, but are incapable of forging a deal that balances tax increases with spending cuts.

        The events of the past few weeks demonstrate that these political pressures overwhelm the few realists looking for a more ambitious bargain. The country either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the burdens we are placing on our children. No coalition of leaders has successfully confronted the voters, and made them heedful of the ruin they are bringing upon the nation.

        https://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/01/opinion/brooks-another-fiscal-flop.html?ref=opinion&_r=1&

        • magus71 said, on January 2, 2013 at 12:17 am

          “No coalition of leaders has successfully confronted the voters, and made them heedful of the ruin they are bringing upon the nation.”

          That’s a very true statement. I don’t think even Mike is heedful. The media hasn’t made people heedful either. There is only one well-known economist or expert on fiscal issues that I know of–Krugman–that says we’re not in big trouble. Since there is a Democrat in the Whitehouse, most of the books about where we’re headed are written by conservatives, whom the media doesn’t want to help by endorsing or talking about their books. The two that come to mind are Niall Ferguson and Mark Stein. There are others. We’ve been warned. A look at the numbers tells even a layman like me that we’re on the back half of the mountain and headed downhill fast.

  4. magus71 said, on January 2, 2013 at 12:22 am

    “Fairness”

  5. magus71 said, on January 2, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Sorry Mike. After the final outcome, your assessment on blame is wrong. The Republicans “compromised” and got slaughtered.

    4 trillion more to the deficit.

    http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/economy/275095-cbo-fiscal-cliff-deal-carries-4-trillion-price-tag

    • T. J. Babson said, on January 2, 2013 at 11:36 am

      Just remember, Magus, that O said it was “unpatriotic” of GWB to run deficits.

      Are we allowed to call O “unpatriotic” for his deficits?

      And now the left is trashing the Constitution. “Let’s give up on the Constitution” was an op-ed in the NYT. Can we call them unpatriotic?

      https://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/31/opinion/lets-give-up-on-the-constitution.html?pagewanted=2&_r=3&ref=opinion&pagewanted=all&

      • magus71 said, on January 2, 2013 at 11:46 am

        I’m reading that article now and writing a blog entry about it. This is truly disturbing. When a 40 year veteran of education and professor at Georgetown writes an article like that, start to worry. My blog post relates how America’s fall is very similar to that of the French Third Republic, but we have geography to our advantage; France had an outdated cement wall.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on January 2, 2013 at 12:00 pm

          The sky is falling?

          • magus71 said, on January 2, 2013 at 12:11 pm

            Which fallacy is the “People have said it before and it didn’t happen so it isn’t true now”, line?

        • WTP said, on January 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm

          The time to worry was nearly 8 years ago when a center-left president of Harvard was run out of office for expressing a differing opinion from certain high-strung members of the staff. Actually, the time to worry was probably 5-10 years before that. Either way, we are well past the time to worry. So-called academics must be held accountable for what they believe. Not for what we imagine them to believe, but we must demand that they back up what they say with actual facts supported by empirical studies and evidence or they must admit the limits of what is knowable due to the inability to produce hard evidence.

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on January 2, 2013 at 11:59 am

        Deficits should only be run in times of desperation-and we should rarely be in such a state.

        I don’t think that one editorial writer speaks for the left. After all, would you say that the lefties are distance runners because I run?

        • T. J. Babson said, on January 2, 2013 at 1:37 pm

          “I don’t think that one editorial writer speaks for the left.”

          But the New York Times does, and they control what appears on their Op-Ed page.

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on January 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm

            Really? They speak for everyone left of the right via their editorial selections? I must have missed that memo.

            • T. J. Babson said, on January 2, 2013 at 3:10 pm

              Memo to Mike: the NYT is an influential newspaper that tilts left.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on January 2, 2013 at 5:48 pm

              I know what the NYT is. I used to read it, back in the day. I still don’t recall it speaking for everyone left of the right, though-especially in regards to noting a single editorial.

            • magus71 said, on January 2, 2013 at 3:13 pm

              When someone on the Right says something stupid, they represent the Right. When someone on the Left says something heretical, well, let’s split hairs on the philosophical problem of who represents the group.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on January 2, 2013 at 5:47 pm

              Not at all. When I criticize a specific person, I specify who I am addressing. When addressing a general principle or position, I am careful to select one that is actually generally held. I also endeavor to note the existence of exceptions. I do admit that I can be a bit sloppy when thumbing out a quick reply on my iPod, though.

          • T. J. Babson said, on January 2, 2013 at 6:03 pm

            Mike, there is a massive amount of evidence that the Left has little patience with the Constitution. Do you think that the NYT Op-Ed is an isolated case? Do you remember how many Dems were ready to scrap the electoral college back in 2000?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on January 2, 2013 at 7:26 pm

              Most lefties and righties like the constitution, while disagreeing with interpretations and specific parts. It is, after all, an imperfect and living document.

              I rather like it, especially since it was amended to outlaw slavery. I’m cool with that change.

      • magus71 said, on January 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm

        What do others on this blog think about the link TJ posted?

        • WTP said, on January 2, 2013 at 6:40 pm

          Which post? Not that I’ve read them all thoroughly but I agree with nearly everything he’s stated here. Even if he was wrong, he’d be wrong while standing for something. The Mikeomasses don’t stand for or stand behind anything they say. They poke and prod but weasel out of specifics. I’d like to hear Mike say what specific spending program that is a favorite of the Democrats that he thinks definitely needs to be cut. No wishy-washy crap about cutting “fraud, waste, and abuse”. Programs. Cut. Period.

          • magus71 said, on January 2, 2013 at 6:44 pm

            The one above which links to the NYT article on getting rid of the Constitution.

            • WTP said, on January 2, 2013 at 7:08 pm

              Yeah, I saw that about a week ago on Ace, I think. It’s typical lefty sophistry. They’re all for freedom, etc. etc. as long as it’s working for them. This is a problem that has been festering for well over a generation so is it any wonder this day has finally arrived where editors of the NYT would openly question the rule of law? But it’s OK because they’re the “good guys”. Like many oppressors haven’t told themselves that to some extent, including many they themselves quote in the editorial. But much of this isn’t news, it’s what they’ve been complicit to since at least the days of FDR and the abuse of the Commerce Clause, specifically in Wickard v. Filburn (1942). But hey, that was long ago perhaps we can throw that out one day also. Of course I would fully expect the NYT to scream being the sophists that they are.

            • magus71 said, on January 2, 2013 at 7:11 pm

              My friend, published author, lawyer, and retired Army Lt. Colonel, Tom Kratman, says Seidman should be put to death. I’m not sure if he’s joking or not.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on January 2, 2013 at 7:28 pm

              Well, he has the right to express his views.

            • WTP said, on January 2, 2013 at 7:22 pm

              See my comments above @ 3:27PM in regard to your first reference to Seidman. Comment?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on January 2, 2013 at 7:29 pm

              I’m with Aristotle on the importance of a good constitution.

            • magus71 said, on January 2, 2013 at 7:39 pm

              Mike, does the school have the right to fire him for advocating the overthrow of the US Constitution?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on January 3, 2013 at 1:35 pm

              The first amendment gives him the right to write about such things. In the context of the university, he is also protected by academic freedom. Also, arguing that we should do without the constitution is hardly grounds for firing a person. This is not a crime and would not violate professional ethics, unless he swore an oath to not do such a thing.

              I think his idea is a bad one, but I think that of many ideas.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on January 2, 2013 at 11:52 am

      I blamed both parties, so I would say I was right.

      Hardly a slaughter for Republicans.

      We are just taking the scenic route to the cliff-there are a few more deadlines ahead.

      • magus71 said, on January 2, 2013 at 11:55 am

        Cut the deficit. Spend less than the government takes in. Is this difficult? Was this a Democrat agenda?

    • biomass2 said, on January 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm

      If compromise were in the Republican vocabulary, they could have compromised a long time ago. Here, I’d toss a few cliches together and say the right found itself wedged snugly between a rock and a hard place and folded

  6. magus71 said, on January 2, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Video is a terrible thing for politicians:

  7. T. J. Babson said, on January 6, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Even Tom Friedman has seen the light. Mike may be the last one stumbling around in the darkness when it comes to Obama’s lack of leadership.

    Gee, do you think after 4 years as president O should “stop acting as a party leader and start acting like the president of the whole country”?

    I expect nothing from the G.O.P. It’s lost and leaderless. I expect a lot from Obama, who knows what needs to be done and has said so in the past. I expect him to stop acting as a party leader and start acting like the president of the whole country. When I heard Obama say, after the election, that this time he was going to take his plan to the country, and not make the mistake again of just negotiating with Congress, I thought, “Great, I can’t wait to hear what he says.” But all he took to the country was a plan for increasing taxes on “millionaires and billionaires.” There was nothing comprehensive, nothing bold, no great journey for America and no risks for him. Really disappointing.

    Maybe Obama has a strategy: First raise taxes on the wealthy, which gives him the credibility with his base to then make big spending cuts in the next round of negotiations. Could be. But raising taxes on the wealthy is easy. Now we’re at the hard part: comprehensive tax reform, entitlement cuts, radical cost-saving approaches to health care and new investments in our growth engines. This will require taking things away from people — to both save and invest. A lot of lobbies will fight it. The president will need to rally the center of the country and the business community to overcome them. He’ll have to change the polls, not just read the polls. He will have to take on his own base and the G.O.P.’s.

    Obama has spent a lot of time lately bashing the rich to pay their “fair share.” You know what? There are definitely some Wall Street bankers and C.E.O.’s who deserve that bashing. But there are many successful Americans who got their wealth the old-fashioned way — by risk-taking, going into debt to start a business or pursue a dream. It’s time for the president to do some risk-taking — to stop just hammering the wealthy, which is so easy, and to start selling the country on a strategy to multiply them. We need to tax more millionaires, but we also need more millionaires and middle classes to tax. The president was elected to grow our national pie, not just re-divide it.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/opinion/sunday/friedman-more-risk-taking-less-poll-taking.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss


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