Posted on | October 24, 2010 | 26 Comments
President Obama, the Rodney Dangerfield of 2010, gets no respect for averting another Great Depression, for saving 3.3 million jobs with stimulus spending, or for salvaging GM and Chrysler from the junkyard. And none of these good deeds, no matter how substantial, will go unpunished if the projected Democratic bloodbath materializes on Election Day. Some are even going unremembered. For Obama, the ultimate indignity is the Times/CBS News poll in September showing that only 8 percent of Americans know that he gave 95 percent of American taxpayers a tax cut.
This is, evidently, the Great Democrat Myth of 2010, a sequel to “We Didn’t Get Our Message Out” (2004) and “Bush Stole the Election” (2000). Whenever Democrats lose an election, their craving for self-esteem requires that they manufacture a myth to explain it to themselves and to the world. This year, they’re planning ahead!
What was included in the February 2009 stimulus package was not a “tax cut.” No one’s tax rates were reduced. Instead, there was a temporary two-year tax credit that reduced payroll witholding by — brace yourself — a whopping $8 a week:
A refundable tax credit of up to $400 for working individuals and up to $800 for married taxpayers filing joint returns. This tax credit will be calculated at a rate of 6.2 percent of earned income and will phase out for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income in excess of $75,000, or $150,000 for married couples filing jointly.
And this $8 a week (a temporary credit, which is not the same as a “tax cut”) is the benevolence for which Frank Rich says you should be so grateful to President Obama.
Oh, yeah: And also “averting another Great Depression,” which is a pretty neat trick with $8 a week.
The problem is that Frank Rich doesn’t understand economics any better than the president does. Neither being a film critic nor attending Harvard Law requires any knowledge of economics. For reasons of pure partisan politics, Democrats have spent nearly a decade screaming “tax cuts for the rich” as an indictment of the Bush policy, without once bothering to ask themselves whether “tax cuts for the rich” was actually a bad idea, in macroeconomic terms.
What matters to Frank Rich and Obama is not whether the policies they advocate lead to economic growth, but rather whether their rhetoric helps convince people to vote Democrat. And in this they share the bias expressed by Stanley Greenberg and James Carville, who have issued a strategic memo for the Democratic Party via the New York Times declaring that in their polling “a Democratic message focused on the middle class and American jobs won out over a Republican message of deficit reduction and wasteful spending.”
See? It’s just a matter of having the right “message.” And never mind whether the policies actually work, or whether your “message” is actually true.
Update (Smitty): Welcome, Instapundit readers!