Read the rest of Karl Rove's piece below
On Tuesday night, Mr. Obama told Congress and the nation, "I reject the view that . . . says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity." Who exactly has that view? Certainly not congressional Republicans, who believe that through reasonable tax cuts, fiscal restraint, and prudent monetary policies government contributes to prosperity.
Mr. Obama also said that America's economic difficulties resulted when "regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market." Who gutted which regulations?
Perhaps it was President Bill Clinton who, along with then Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, removed restrictions on banks owning insurance companies in 1999. If so, were Mr. Clinton and Mr. Summers (now an Obama adviser) motivated by quick profit, or by the belief that the reform was necessary to modernize our financial industry?
Perhaps Mr. Obama was talking about George W. Bush. But Mr. Bush spent five years pushing to further regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He was blocked by Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank. Arriving in the Senate in 2005, Mr. Obama backed up Mr. Dodd's threat to filibuster Mr. Bush's needed reforms.
Even in an ostensibly nonpartisan speech marking Lincoln's 200th birthday, Mr. Obama used a straw-man argument, decrying "a philosophy that says every problem can be solved if only government would step out of the way; that if government were just dismantled, divvied up into tax breaks, and handed out to the wealthiest among us, it would somehow benefit us all. Such knee-jerk disdain for government -- this constant rejection of any common endeavor -- cannot rebuild our levees or our roads or our bridges."
Whose philosophy is this? Many Americans justifiably believe that government is too big and often acts in counterproductive ways. But that's a far cry from believing that in "every" case government is the problem or that government should be "dismantled" root and branch. Who -- other than an anarchist -- "constantly rejects any common endeavor" like building levees, roads or bridges?
During his news conference on Feb. 9, Mr. Obama decried an unnamed faction in the congressional stimulus debate as "a set of folks who -- I don't doubt their sincerity -- who just believe that we should do nothing."
Who were these sincere do-nothings? Every House Republican voted for an alternative stimulus plan, evidence that they wanted to do something. Every Senate Republican -- with the exception of Judd Gregg, who'd just withdrawn his nomination to be Mr. Obama's Commerce secretary and therefore voted "present" -- voted for alternative stimulus proposals.
Then there's Mr. Obama's description of the Bush-era tax cuts. "A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy," he explained in his Tuesday speech, after earlier saying, "tax cuts alone can't solve all of our economic problems -- especially tax cuts that are targeted to the wealthiest few."
The Bush tax cuts were not targeted to "the wealthiest few." Everyone who paid federal income taxes received a tax cut, with the largest percentage of reductions going to those at the bottom. Last year, a family of four making $40,000 saved an average of $2,053 because of the Bush tax cuts. The tax code became more progressive as the share paid by the top 10% increased to 46.4% from 46% -- and the nation experienced 52 straight months of job growth after the cuts took effect. And since when is giving back some of what people pay in taxes "transferring wealth?"
In his inaugural address -- which was generally graceful toward the opposition -- Mr. Obama proclaimed, "We have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord." Which Republican ran against him on fear, conflict and discord?
Mr. Obama portrays himself as a nonideological, bipartisan voice of reason. Everyone resorts to straw men occasionally, but Mr. Obama's persistent use of the device is troubling. Continually characterizing those who disagree with you in a fundamentally dishonest way can be the sign of a person who lacks confidence in the merits of his ideas.
It was said that Lincoln crafted his arguments in "resonant words that enriched the political dialogue of his age." Mr. Obama's straw men aren't enriching the dialogue of our age. They are cheapening it. Mr. Obama should stop employing them.
Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.
In Obama's speech that night there were other misconceptions put forth like telling Congress he doesn't believe in bigger government. If he doesn't believe in big government then what do you call the intrusion of government into the energy sector, health care, the financial industry, and the banking and mortgage industry. A government he proposes by any other name would be just as encompassing and controlling. Daniel Henninger, from the Wall Street Journal said it right, "It would be a reordered economic system, its direction chosen and guided by Mr. Obama and his inner circle." I don't know if you want that inner circle yielding that much power and financial influence, when most of them can't even gettheir own finances straight.
Another great quote by Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. WSJ Opinion Feb. 25, 2009
".......He kids himself if he believes he will be allowed, like FDR, to preside over a depression without being politically blamed for it. The public is different now-the world is different-and he will own the 'Obama Depression' sooner than he thinks."
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