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Obama’s Big Class-Warfare Theme

A Commentary By Lawrence Kudlow

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Following the GOP debate that nearly the whole world watched on Saturday night, the president on Sunday made it very clear that he will not back off his class-warfare vision in the coming year. Obama told Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes that middle-class inequality will be his big theme, and that somehow successful earners, investors, and small-business owners are to blame.

The president said that while fat-cat incomes went up 200 to 300 percent over the last few decades, middle-class incomes didn’t grow. This is not true, according to James Pethokoukis, whose blog posts citing various studies show that real median income rose at least 40 to 50 percent.

In any case, whatever the exact numbers, it’s still a mystery to me why successful people getting ahead cause anybody to fall behind. The Jack Kemp idea was always to foster a rising tide that would lift all boats. How can this happen if we penalize success and raise top tax rates on work and investment to 50 percent or more? That’s a mystery.

I should think, in a system of democratic capitalism, that more millionaires are a good thing. Show me a system of redistribution, and I’ll show you a system of economic stagnation.

Elsewhere in the interview the president said he did not overpromise on the results of his stimulus package. But actually, according to the original February 2009 stimulus documents, today’s unemployment rate should be close to 6 percent, not 8.6 percent. The president is now backing off by saying economic recovery is a long-term project that will take more than one term and more than one president.

By the way, Obama told the Today Show ’s Matt Lauer in February 2009 that if he doesn’t “have this done in three years, then it’s going to be a one-term proposition.”

Which leads me to this thought regarding the GOP race: Since we basically know what Obama’s vision will be, which candidate will be better at besting Obama and his vision?

It’s going to be a battle between FDR’s 1930s and Ronald Reagan/Jack Kemp prosperity optimism.

Larry Kudlow, National Review Online's Economics Editor, is host of CNBC's "The Kudlow Report" and author of the daily web blog Kudlow's Money Politic$.

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