What the hell happened? Is Santa Claus a turncoat, a closet Democrat? Americans were good this year. We paid our taxes. Those of us with jobs worked hard and we did our best, but there are no presents under our tree. Once again, Congress has screwed us at Christmas. In a flashback to last year, anger, threats, and pronouncements of doom rule our holiday season (see: Congress Pounds a Holly Stake Through Middle Class Hearts). The only gifts left by our well-paid, do-nothing elected officials are bombast, uncertainty, and debt.
Americans come together. Self-serving Washington drives us apart.
When tragedy strikes, politicians appear out of nowhere. Cameras flash and banks of microphones beckon. We hear about Americans coming together, about persevering, about being greater than the sum of our parts. When the self-serving speeches finally end, all we are left with are opportunities for more division.
Who would think to connect the Newtown tragedy and the fiscal cliff debt battle? Our president, thinking ahead to new legislative victories:
And there’s so much more work to be done in this country — on jobs and on incomes, education and energy. We’re a week away from one of the worst tragedies in memory, so we’ve got work to do on gun safety, a host of other issues.¹
This is what tragedy means to Washington, an opportunity to finesse another contentious, pork-laden bill that legislators will vote on along party lines and never read. Meanwhile, Americans pick up the pieces.
Shared responsibility tax plan? So America is really about social class, after all?
There is a big difference between Obama-style shared responsibility and Americans sharing responsibility. We all pay to keep things running. We all fund public services, even when they are denied to us (see: Government Cannot Negotiate for Control of Public Services). Americans go out of their way with stunning displays of altruism and generosity in response to adversity.
The shared responsibility in the Obama tax plan repeatedly tells us that America is not good enough, that we are not doing enough, that some of us need to pay more, and that the only thing that matters is funding a short-lived, partisan vision of what America should be.
Barack Obama has reduced this country to an argument over social class, judging Americans based on their ability to pay taxes or to be used as poster children to finesse more spending money. Regardless of whether you are middle class or wealthy, you have probably figured out who the real beneficiaries will be if any portion of the Obama tax plan gets a nod on Capitol Hill. The Founding Fathers talked about government serving the people. Why did we allow that to change?
Does shared responsibility apply to Obama’s divisive social class war?
There is nothing new about the Obama tax plan. His take on social class inequalities is ancient, albeit less than articulate. It is difficult to reconcile conciliatory words like this:
Averting this middle-class tax hike is not a Democratic responsibility or a Republican responsibility. With their votes, the American people have determined that governing is a shared responsibility between both parties.²
With self-serving partisan rhetoric like this:
We can either settle for an economy where a few people do really well and everyone else struggles to get by, or we can build an economy where hard work pays off again – where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. That’s up to us.³
What better example of a delusional mindset than a Washington politician talking about a fair shot, a fair share, and playing by the same rules while he fans the flames of his private social class war?
Mr. Obama is correct. Governing is a shared responsibility, but the only ones doing any sharing are the American people. Once again at Christmas, our government has let us know that it has abdicated its share of the bargain.
Middle class, rich, or poor, remember that we are the ones who count.