by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Perhaps the strangest utterance of Barack Obama’s career in public office — a career that was full of utterly bizarre pronunciations of many kinds on many subjects — was his 2008 claim that raising taxes on the wealthy is a moral imperative, even if the tax increase in question ended up reducing overall federal revenue.
Which is to say, Obama argued that it did not matter whether a tax increase hurt the Treasury, so long as it also hurt, at least in theory and on paper, certain wealthy people. That wasn’t a one-off: In his crackpot speech in Osawatomie, Kan., during which he tried to reanimate Teddy Roosevelt’s “new nationalism” cult (this was back before progressives had decided that to use the word “nationalism” in public was akin to shouting “Sieg heil!”), he took a similarly moralizing approach. “Our tax code must reflect our values,” he proclaimed. …
… [W]hen it comes to shameless crazy, Senator Sanders is always ready to throw down. Not satisfied with a nonsensical wealth tax that is never going to be enacted or implemented, he has now unveiled a nonsensical inequality tax that is never going to be enacted or implemented. The proposal — which is economically insane and probably illegal — would impose a punitive tax on companies unless they adhered to certain ratio of executive pay to that of the average worker. Of course it’s dumb and destructive — that’s the point.
When politicians fail at the basics of governance — and ours have failed and are failing — they embrace moral crusades and moral hysterias.