President Obama is not a leftist, selecting policies to fit his preconceived ideological notions, but a pragmatist, looking for what works, what’s effective, what will get the job done. He pledged all this himself, it’s a great approach to governance, and it’s very, very sad the pledge is just not true.
Obama proved that once again the other day with the announcement of a plan to tax businesses more severely on revenues earned overseas, thereby making American companies less competitive. There will be a hit on the economy at a time we can hardly afford it and the only excuse is leftist joy in business-bashing.
Even semi-socialist European nations by and large get it that overtaxing corporations is a goose-slaying means of reducing golden eggs, which is why their corporate taxes are almost all significantly lower than ours. Reduce the corporate tax and, if you want, then close some loopholes, but don’t pretend that damaging the economic well-being of U.S. corporations is a wise, pragmatic choice.
No one should pretend, either, that Obama has a pragmatic solution to the energy crisis when he focuses on wind power while taking steps to make nuclear development ever more problematic.
Nuclear works and it costs no more than intermittently effective, land-devastating wind farms. The pragmatic model is France, where 80 percent of electricity is produced by nuclear plants, compared to 20 percent in this country.
And don’t give us some song and dance about a global warming, cap-and-trade tax being the pragmatic approach to controlling carbon emissions when powerful studies show it won’t be.
This, too, could be economically disastrous to minimal avail even according to some critics subscribing to the theory of catastrophic, human-caused warming. Any new tax now is likely unwarranted, but a less painful gasoline tax would at least have the benefit of addressing carbon emissions along with another issue – too much dependence on overseas oil.
The Obama solution to tens of trillions of unfunded liabilities in a Social Security system that soon won’t be able to pay its bills is to lift caps on the payroll tax. What we have here is the typical leftist choice for every woe: hit people in their pocketbooks.
The fact is, this move won’t begin to solve the problem and there’s a non-tax answer that will: End the formula under which future retirees will get more than current retirees.
This answer does not mean anyone would get less than people now receive. Benefits would still be adjusted for inflation. And you could even continue to raise benefit amounts for the poorest among us if you chose.
The only problem with this approach is that it does not fit snugly with liberalism’s wish to make the welfare state ever larger and all of us ever more dependent on it.
Obama wants more jobs for Americans while skipping one of the easiest, most pragmatic approaches for getting there: Afford businesses improved means of determining the legal status of employees and crack down on employers who hire illegal aliens. Millions of jobs could come open.
Reforming legal immigration to allow only immigrants with high levels of educational and needed skills would be a pragmatic means of addressing another Obama concern. He correctly understands that this country’s best prospects reside in lifting educational levels and equipping young people with technological skills, but it’s an understanding that goes into hiding on immigration issues.
So yes, President Obama, be pragmatic, not just rhetorically, but in actual policies that still abide by crucial humane, rule-of-law principles while nevertheless shaking off ideological presuppositions that just don’t hold up.
Examiner columnist Jay Ambrose is a former Washington opinion writer and editor of two dailies. He can be reached at: