Patterico's Pontifications


Obama and JFK (Updated)

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 1:25 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Barack Obama has been compared to President John F. Kennedy for his style, cool demeanor, and oratory. Obama was endorsed by Ted, Patrick and Caroline Kennedy who compared his ability to inspire to her father’s. Like JFK, Obama calls on young Americans to embrace public service and his wife Michelle has been compared to Jackie Kennedy. Finally, Obama used JFK’s template to turn concerns about his race into a positive, just as JFK arguably turned his Catholic religion from a liability into an asset.

But it looks like Obama isn’t like JFK when it comes to taxes and foreign policy. On the latter, Time Magazine notes that during his visit to Berlin, Barack Obama “used the symbolism of the Berlin Wall to articulate the importance of destroying the barriers that separate countries and cultures.”

No doubt Obama is counting on symbolism and the limited historical knowledge of his supporters. After all, within months after it was built, President John F. Kennedy accepted the Berlin Wall as “a fact of international life” that he would not challenge with force.

As for tax cuts, JFK startled the nation when he called for permanent tax cuts that were ultimately implemented by LBJ after JFK’s death:

“In the end it was Lyndon Johnson who, after Kennedy’s 1963 assassination, pushed through the permanent tax reductions. Johnson and Congress reduced the top rate to 77 percent in 1964 and then 70 percent in 1965. In his first State of the Union address, Johnson argued for the lower permanent rates, saying “every individual American taxpayer, and every corporate taxpayer will benefit” – none of the modern anxiety about appearing to help the rich there.

Some would argue that 70 percent is so high that to call it a cut is risible. But as today, what mattered wasn’t just the rate but the direction. Today, investors generally understand that Europe, especially France, is trying to help the private sector more than before. Taxes may come down there, whereas in the United States taxes are clearly going up. This relative shift has contributed to the strength of the euro, even though Europe’s taxes are far higher than ours.

In Kennedy’s time, the dynamic was the opposite. The U.S. cuts were followed by years of strong growth, declining unemployment and a leaping stock market.”

Amity Shlaes wrote those words in February 2008 as she urged Barack Obama to adopt tax cutting policies similar to JFK’s. I’m sure she was disappointed when, just one month later, Obama pledged to almost double the top capital gains rate. In addition, Obama has endorsed $1.4 trillion (or more) in new government spending over just 5 years, most of which must be paid for with new taxes.

To illustrate the enormity of this amount, in March 2008 Senator Wayne Allard introduced a Senate budget amendment that included 111 of Obama’s 188 new spending proposals. Allard called his amendment Obama’s Spend-O-Rama and here’s an overview of how the new programs will affect the US budget:

“• This new spending, if enacted, would represent an almost 10% increase over the President’s FY 2009 budget.

• This $300 billion spending proposal would cost more than 42 states’ budgets combined (general fund expenditures).

• It is more than the United States spent last year on imported oil ($294 billion net).

• It is more than 60% larger than any one-year federal spending increase, ever.”

What does this mean for the average taxpayer?

“Obama claims to want to “balance the budget and stop spending the Social Security Surplus.” Combining that laudable goal with Obama’s massive new spending would cause the tax bills of the average taxpayer earning $62,000 to rise $5,300, or 61%. For taxpayers earning $104,000, the increase would be over $12,000, or 74%, and for the top 1%, earning over $365,000, “their income tax bill rise by an astounding $93,500 (132%)!”

Obama believes in Tax and Spend and that will leave Americans with far less Change. It’s odd, though, because the Obamas should be aware of how difficult it can be to work out from under a huge debt. After all, it was only with the help of a windfall from two book deals that the Obamas were able to pay off their large student loans.

UPDATE: By the way, the Allard Amendment – with 111 of Obama’s 188 spending proposals and the tax hikes needed to pay for them – was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 97-0. Even Barack Obama voted against it.


22 Responses to “Obama and JFK (Updated)”

  1. “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy” was a phrase spoken by American Democratic vice-presidential candidate Senator Lloyd Bentsen to Republican vice-presidential candidate Senator Dan Quayle during the 1988 vice-presidential debate.

    Obama is definitely no JFK…………. yet.

    Oiram (447eed)

  2. “…………. yet.”

    — Is that because so far he’s been faithful to his wife? or is it because you will be the one that loads the carbine after he lets you down?

    Icy Truth (10a986)

  3. Everybody knows that high tax rates are not paid by the rich. Only “the little people” pay high tax rates. Of course, that is where most jobs come from these days but Obama did not take any economics courses, at least none taught by non-Marxists.

    Mike K (586583)

  4. Obama refuses to Admit the surge is working. If he had his way all the troops would be gone from Iraq & it would be a republic of Iran. On the other hand, Obama is hot to trot to send troops to Afghanistan. The guy is seriously confused.

    Chip Douglas (7cfd24)

  5. How much does the Kennedy family trust pay each year, with all those offshore accounts and tax dodges? How much does George Soros pay?

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  6. John Bolton neatly dissects Obama’s naive and uninformed Berlin Wall metaphor today, as well as an inexcusable lack of understanding re Cold War history, in an LAT op-ed.,0,4549608.story

    A crude and simplistic cyclical irony of the Tax and Spend is, when carried out to nth degree, that the middle class paying the exorbinant increase to support special interest, will themselves eventually become financially spread so thin they will then need a handout. Fruit for Michelle and her children is going to get awfully expensive for us.

    Dana (f3e2a8)

  7. “How much does the Kennedy family trust pay each year, with all those offshore accounts and tax dodges? How much does George Soros pay?”

    Holy Crap.

    You guys think that just because a rich man is a democrat that he should start donating all of his money to The U.S.A. If he did that he or she would not be able to compete thus not be able to get his message across.

    Wow, that would be like me yelling at a Republican for actually paying attention to the letter health grading his local McDonald’s got, and not go to the C rated dump across the street.

    Government runs the health department. Do Republicans not use the health gradings?
    Note: I am merely demonstrating what the logic is in comment #5. I do not condone the previous sentence.

    Oiram (447eed)

  8. You guys think that just because a rich man is a democrat that he should start donating all of his money to The U.S.A.

    You guys think that just because a rich man is not a Democrat that he should start donating all of his money to The U.S.A.

    And it is always the Democrats that want the hoi polloi to pay higher taxes. Why not make those who advocate the policy bear the cost? That is also – (*analogy alert*) – the same logic being used by the opponents of the war when they start asking “why aren’t you enlisting, Mr. Chickenhawk?”

    You want higher taxes, why are you giving up more of your own money first?

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  9. Pay attention to Obama and not Limbaugh.

    Tax cuts for those under $200,000 and tax rates for those making over $200,000 = to the percentage the rest are paying.

    Oiram (447eed)

  10. Drum, do me a favor and let my McDonalds health rating analogy clue you into what I mean, when I say how stupid it is to tell those that advocate higher taxes to actually pay them without reason.

    Oiram (447eed)

  11. Oiram #9

    Tax cuts for those under $200,000 and tax rates for those making over $200,000 = to the percentage the rest are paying.


    * For someone earning $50,000/year, what percentage of their income presently goes to taxes? What’s their marginal income tax rate?

    * How about somebody earning $150,000?

    * $500,000?

    I recognize that all these questions are tricky, since they demand assumptions about # of dependents, state of residence, etc. For the higher incomes, capital gains (taxed federally at 15%) becomes particularly important.

    It’s easy to say, rich people should pay higher taxes and poor people should get tax breaks. But the real question is, “how high is high enough?”

    What’s your opinion? Is there any marginal tax rate that would qualify as “too high” on either moral or practical grounds?

    AMac (c822c9)

  12. The reality is that JFK was a fairly mediocre president whose legacy was improved by an untimely death. In terms of foreign policy, JFK showed a recklessness the reality of which far exceeds even the most ridiculous exaggerations of the BDS crowd. People also forget that there was really very little ideological distance between JFK and Nixon, with JFK actually running farther to the right than Nixon on some issues.

    That’s why comparisons between Obama and JFK are both ludicrously stupid – and to me, not all that flattering.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  13. when I say how stupid it is to tell those that advocate higher taxes to actually pay them without reason.

    Why? If people feel that they need to pay more in taxes, they are cordially invited to do so. If they think that there should be programs for the homeless, then left them pay for it out of their own pockets.

    But for them to demand that I pay more in taxes to finance programs I don’t agree with, is nothing more than theft – they want to steal my hard-earned money at the point of the government’s guns and decide how it should be spent, just to make themselves feel better, without a whit of worry about how my own feelimgs on the matter.

    There are some things that a government is supposed to do – have a military, provide the roads, keep the peace.

    But it’s only supposed to provide a level playing field, not tear down the successful to pay for the failures. It’s supposed to make sure that everyone plays by the same rule, not write new rules to force specific outcomes based on personal and ideological preferences.

    I will repeat: if you want to pay more in taxes, you are more than welcome to do so, and I am quite sure that the IRS will not return your check, uncashed. But don’t you dare tell me that you get to decide how my money is spent, and that it is for my own good.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  14. Although Obama has plans to inlcude tax spending to provide programs for the middle class, he also plans to cut military costs to defray some of those costs. Until Obama spells out his programs more implicitly, we don’t really know if this article is biased or not. Until I know more, I will just refer to this as one person’s opinion.

    Patricia (0fbad4)

  15. “Ich bin ein Beginner!

    Barack Obama (25c76e)

  16. Tax cuts for those under $200,000 and tax rates for those making over $200,000 = to the percentage the rest are paying.

    Comment by Oiram

    More economic ignorance. Have you ever looked at the percentage of total taxes paid by income quartile ?

    Mike K (586583)

  17. AMac @ 11…
    The problem with the Dems (Libs) is that they are always saying how the “rich” don’t pay their fair share; but, they are impossible to pin down as to who the “rich” are.
    Historically, the record seems to say that to them, anyone with a job is “rich”!

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  18. Mike K…
    You forget the First Rule of Elder:
    Facts to a Liberal, are like Kryptonite to Superman!

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  19. Mike, no I’m sure that he hasn’t. If he did, he’ll realize that the existing tax code is very progressive already – and if he paid any attention to the issue, he’d know that it is getting more progressive, not less, even under the Bush administration tax cuts.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  20. I think a lot of people define “the rich” as anyone who makes more money than they do.

    DRJ (b1ff9b)

  21. There have been surveys on the issues that come up in these discussions. College students, for example, estimate corporate profits at 33 to 45% of sales.

    In one poll conducted by the Opinion Research Corp. of Princeton, N.J., a majority of those questioned thought that companies averaged 33% profit on each dollar of sales. A sampling of college students by Standard & Poor’s yielded an even higher estimate: 45%. The actual figure is below 5% —and the overall trend has been downward. According to a FORTUNE survey, the 1975 median profit margin of the nation’s 500 largest industrial corporations shrank to 3.9% of sales. That was the thinnest margin in 17 years. (the link has typos for percent)

    That was in 1976 and no doubt helped Jimmy Carter win that election. How about more recently ? Most surveys now are interested in students social awareness.

    61% of 13- to 25-year-olds feel personally responsible for making a difference in the world, suggests a survey of 1,800 young people to be released today. It says 81% have volunteered in the past year; 69% consider a company’s social and environmental commitment when deciding where to shop, and 83% will trust a company more if it is socially/environmentally responsible.

    These students are called “Millenials” and seem more interested in the topics that they have been hearing in school for years, like global warming and recycling. They have little concept of business and economics.

    These are the Obama voters and seem to be very receptive to his vague generalities. They avoid math and science in school and, to an old fart like me, seem ignorant of the quantitive aspects of life. God helps us if they vote.

    Mike K (586583)

  22. “The reality is that JFK was a fairly mediocre president…..”
    by SPQR at #12.

    I totally agree. Since the day JFK was inaugurated, a black Friday on the 20th. of January, 1961, the USA has been poorly managed in the extreme. Even RFK noted that welfare gave a family just a check without a father. The mentally ill, the homeless, and the drug created problem of senseless violence in this nation can be traced back to Oct. 1963 and JFK’s Community Mental Health Centers Act-1963.

    There have been only two times in my boomer life that this nation seemed to be managed well. The Eisenhower years and the Reagan years. All the other times, both Bush terms included, this nation has had “sub-prime” leadership.

    C. Norris (051d62)

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