Commentary

Obama Bypasses Congress, Using Regulations to Redistribute Wealth

By Ernest Istook | February 27, 2015 | 9:37am EST

ype="node" title="Obama Redistribution of Wealth

President Barack Obama is re-distributing America's wealth by using his control of regulations and the bureaucracy. Congress gets bypassed, the consequence from decades of granting more power to the executive branch.

A runaway President is the inevitable result from the dizzying growth of government.

Obama uses this power to push his core agenda, which is re-distributing wealth in the name of “fairness.” To counteract the supposed greed of the rich, he teaches that everyone else should be greedy by taking from others to get things for themselves. Consistently, Obama states that more taxes on the wealthy are the necessary link to fund more benefits for everybody else.

Although offensive to many, Barack and Michelle Obama's extravagant lifestyle at public expense becomes a symbol of achieving success through redistribution.

Ronald Reagan captured the Obama philosophy in a simple statement: “When you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always count on Paul's vote.”

This is an ancient practice: Bribe people to support you and to love you as their benefactor. The theme destroys the moral fiber of a nation. Supposedly the moral distinction from robbery, extortion and embezzlement evaporates because government is the middleman that does the actual taking.

Examples of Obama's giveaways through the bureaucracy are hidden in plain sight:

  • Obama's IRS says it will send checks to Americans-in-waiting (previously known as illegal aliens), up to $35,000 per family according to the Congressional Research Service. Payments begin as soon as Department of Homeland Security underlings declare everybody legal and issue work permits to them.
  • Obama's Consumer Financial Protection Board requires more loans be provided to people with lousy credit (to avoid CFPB lawsuits over “disparate impact” upon minorities). This revives the bad mortgages that crashed our economy a few years ago.
  • Obama's Housing and Urban Development is poised to issue regulations that essentially will require prosperous neighborhoods to subsidize poor neighborhoods.
  • Obama's EPA regulations are described by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R, OK) as creating re-distribution under the pretense of combating climate change.
  • Constantly-shifting interpretations of Obamacare curry favor where needed.
  • Obamaphone: He didn't start this Lifeline program, but tripled its size through the FCC bureaucracy. Now they want to subsidize Internet service for millions, in addition to providing cell phones.
  • Skyrocketing numbers of people on food stamps, Medicaid and disability.

Increasingly, benefits are intended to buy support from the middle-class. A family of four making up to $97,000 a year can get Obamacare subsidies.

How to pay for it all? By fixing income inequality, of course, and making the rich pay their “fair share.” After all, the top half of income earners only pay 97% of the federal personal income tax. And the top 1% of earners only bear 38% of that burden.

But lest the rich gripe, Obama offers both a carrot and a stick.

Obama is willing to buy votes with giveaways to the rich as well as to the middle class and to the poor. For the rich he offers crony capitalism such as green energy grants and Ex-Im Bank guarantees. This is bait attracting those who practice what a new lawsuit accuses Al Sharpton of doing: Partnering with whoever will pay you to abandon principles.

That's a carrot. To everyone who opposes him, Obama applies the stick to silence them, again using the back doors of bureaucracy:

  • The IRS suppresses the Tea Party;
  • The Federal Communications Commission controls the Internet by imposing “net neutrality;”
  • The Federal Elections Commission stifles debate by declaring that discussions of issues are “electioneering” and must be regulated;
  • Even “New York Times'” people describe Obama's as the most secretive and “control freak” White House in history. The Associated Press cites Obama for record levels of denying and delaying Freedom of Information Act requests.
  • Yet national media remain deep in puppy love for Obama instead of acting as watchdogs.

Foes are accused of failing to comply with Obama's new regulations, even while Obama himself flaunts our laws and Constitution. The difference is that his Justice Department will enforce laws against his foes.

Flowery political language and Hollywood hype are used to tranquilize those with the shortest attention spans and to suppress moral qualms. But using government to take from some and give to others does not make a practice virtuous.

Once upon a time, government reflected America's values. Now government issues propaganda to change our values.

Politically-correct edicts are used to re-channel our beliefs. Obama's first head of regulatory policy was Cass Sunstein, the Harvard professor whose book “Nudge” promoted use of regulations to nudge the public in politically-favored directions.

Obama's bureaucrats also control the $640-billion handed out to state and local governments each year. This bribery silences many would-be critics so that they support (or at least accept) the Washington agenda.

Obama wants his agenda locked-in so that it still controls the country after he leaves office. His stated goal is that his edicts endure for at least another ten years.

By then, how can his transformation be rolled back? Congress is spectacularly unsuccessful in reversing the growth of government. Every expansion of government requires expanding Presidential authority to manage the programs. By Constitutional design and by practice, Congress does not manage daily operations; the President does. Inevitably, the more government grows, the more power flows to the chief executive until Obama finds that he can get away with thumbing his nose at Congress, the laws and the Constitution.

Obama carefully conceals and misleads about his core beliefs. Before he ran for President he used less guile. In one infamous radio interview, he bemoaned that the Constitution does not guarantee government giveaways, because it “says what the states can’t do to you (and) what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf.” Obama added that this makes it harder “to bring about significant re-distributional change.”

Sooner or later, Obama and his liberal friends will run out of other people's money. But by then they expect to have changed the face of America and created so much dependency that reversal will be impossible.

Confiscating every penny of income from the richest 1% of Americans (those earning $380,000 a year or more) would yield less than $1-trillion a year. And, of course, then they would quit working or leave the country, John Galt-style.

If government confiscated the entire wealth from everyone in the Forbes 400 it would total only $2.3-trillion. And there would be nothing left to tax the following year. Below those 400, net worth drops precipitously.

We're spending $3.5-trillion a year now, even without adding Obama's latest requests, so we would burn through the entire fortunes of the rich within just a few months.

It says scary things about America that Obama succeeds with his messages of class warfare, soak-the-rich and re-distribute wealth. The time approaches when this leads to collapse because, as Margaret Thatcher explained: “Eventually you run out of other people's money.”

Ernest Istook, former U.S. Congressman from Oklahoma, is president of Americans for Less Regulation.

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