It is still a stinging welt, the day-after effect of a nasty wasp sting. That would be the now-infamous remark from Barack Obama:
“If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
Everyone who was offended and stunned into disbelief is still talking and writing about it. The sting was that strong. And they are doing so because it was, well, the coup de grace.
It once and for all cast in bronze and defined Obama the way believers in American exceptionalism have viewed Obama since his election in 2008. We've been accused of being un-American for saying so, but Obama defined himself with those remarks as, well, un-American.
He unequivocally rejects what Hoover Institution senior fellow John B. Taylor calls “the first principles of economic freedom upon which the country was founded.” As Taylor writes in his new book, “First Principles: Five Keys to Restoring America's Prosperity”:
“At its most basic level, economic freedom means that families, individuals and entrepreneurs are free to decide what to produce, what to consume, what to buy and sell and how to help others. The American vision was that those decisions would be made within a predictable government policy framework based on the rule of law with strong incentives derived from the market system and with a clearly limited role for government.”
Obama rejects this. His words and actions over the past three and a half years definitively confirm that his vision is that of a collectivist, a deep-rooted statist. His words and actions have shown that he believes the job of the state is to intervene in greater and greater scope, arbitrarily if necessary (i.e. health care, immigration, scrapping the great welfare law); to pick winners and losers (Solyndra versus Keystone Pipeline); and to redistribute wealth to achieve more equal outcomes (tax the rich).
And that is a rejection of the soul of the United States, the first principles.
This is not right-wing ranting. You should read the New York Times bestseller by Edward Klein, “The Amateur.” Klein is the former editor of the New York Times Sunday Magazine, a former foreign editor for Newsweek and a contributing editor to Vanity Fair — all unambiguously liberal publications. Based on his interviews with nearly 200 people who have worked closely with Obama, many who have known him for more than 20 years, and with people inside and outside the White House, Klein presents 259 pages of scathing facts and true stories. So stunning, they will trigger your adrenaline.
One that captures the essence of Obama's grand vision is Klein's telling of a June 30, 2009, gathering in the family quarters of the Whites House. Obama “invited nine like-minded, liberal historians” to a private dinner. Obama unveiled his vision for his presidency: to be a “transformative” president.
According to Klein, Obama self-confidently told the historians he intended to bring permanent peace to the Middle East; he would open “constructive dialogues” between the U.S. and Iran and North Korea; he would revolutionize the nation's healthcare system and energy policy; and he “would inject the regulatory hand of the federal government into the American economy in an effort to create 'a more just and equitable society.'”
When some of the historians recalled for Obama the difficulties Lyndon Johnson had with similar intentions, “Obama grew testy,” Klein writes. Klein summarized the dinner's conversation as “a breathtaking display of narcissistic grandiosity,” with Obama revealing “his ideological bent as a far-left corporatist.”
We have seen and are still living the results of that vision. Economically, it's the worst post-recession recovery in history.
As the Hoover Institution's Taylor shows in his “First Principles,” these results were predictable and will not reverse until policy makers reverse course. A noted economist and frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal, Taylor shows in his research that whenever policy makers engage in increased intervention into the economy and less economic freedom, economic performance worsens. When they back off, it improves. To wit:
• Mid-1960s to 1983 — Unemployment reached 6% in 1970; 9% in 1975 and nearly 11% in 1982-83. “Inflation, unemployment and interest rates all reached into double digits in this period, and by the late 1970s there was a palpable sense in America — not unlike today — that our economy was out of control and perhaps headed for an enduring decline,” Taylor writes.
• Mid-1980s to early to mid-2000s — Taylor refers to this as a swing “toward more economic freedom” that “coincided with a remarkably stable period, frequently called the Great Moderation.” These were the Reagan and Clinton years, when tax rates were lowered and regulations less onerous.
Forty-four million jobs were created in this period; inflation and interest rates were lower and more stable than in the 1970s. “Economic expansions were longer and stronger, while recessions were shorter and shallower than they had been in the two previous decades,” Taylor notes.
• Mid-2000s to today — We know all about this. Increased intervention, dramatically increased regulations. Unemployment: The real rate is well above 11%.
Stick with the corporatist Obama and his Senate Democrats, and we will be destined to more of the same.
This is not the America we want. We want the America where the founding fathers' “first principles of economic freedom” are boiling with entrepreneurism, where entrepreneurs are free to build their dreams on their own, with their own efforts, courage and determination — without the interference of the hand of the arrogant state.
OBAMA'S ECONOMIC VISION: MUSSOLINI STYLE
Edward Klein, author of “The Amateur,” describes Barack Obama's economic vision, based on Klein's reporting about a 2009 dinner Obama hosted for nine historians. Nowhere in Klein's reporting about Obama is there a vision for entrepreneurism:
“During his dinner with historians, Obama indicated that he had a preference for a corporatist political system in which the economy would be collectively managed by big employers, big unions and government officials through a formal mechanism at the national level. Also known as state capitalism, it is a system in which the government picks winners and promotes economic growth.
“The corporate approach was hardly a new idea. It had been around form than 150 years. It had been tried in the 1930s and 1940s by Benito Mussolini's Italian Fascists, and in Europe after World War II by democratic-socialist governments in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal, among others. In America during the 1970s and 1980s, leftwing Democratic presidential candidates Gary Hart and Michael Dukakis revived the idea, arguing that America should replace free-market capitalism with what they call 'a neo-corporatist state.'
“Though the corporatist idea had an unbroken record of failure both in Europe and America, where voters had decisively rejected Gary Hart and Michael Dukakis, Obama was determined to embrace this discredited economic, political and social philosophy. He planned to achieve his 'transformational' presidency by vastly expanding the reach of Washington into the everyday life of American citizens.”