Obama as Robin Hood

posted at 12:20 pm on August 1, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama has released his “Emergency Economic Plan,” a clever mechanism that owes much more to Robin Hood than Milton Friedman.  Obama plans to impose windfall-profits taxes on oil companies, and then redistribute the funds to taxpayers in the form of one-time rebates of $1000 per family.  Obama also plans on spending an additional $50 billion, half of which will go to state governments:

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Friday announced an “Emergency Economic Plan” that would give families a stimulus check of $1,000 each, funded in part by what his presidential campaign calls “windfall profits from Big Oil.”

Details are in this six-page policy paper.

The first part of Obama’s plan is an emergency energy rebate ($500 to individual workers, $1,000 to families) as soon as this fall.

“This rebate will be enough to offset the increased cost of gas for a working family over the next four months,” Obama said. “Or, if you live in a state where it gets very cold in the winter, it will be enough to cover the entire increase in your heating bills. Or you could use the rebate for any of your other bills or even to pay down debt[."]

The Obama campaign simply can’t keep its credentials as a Carter retread hidden.  The windfall-profits tax got tried by Jimmy Carter in the last desperate months of his presidency as he tried to demonize oil companies for fuel price increases and shortages.  The tax hit decreased domestic production and forced us to import more oil, and it did nothing to relieve weary consumers.  Only when Reagan took office and eventually got the tax rescinded, along with other arbitratry tax disincentives towards domestic production, did fuel prices and supply stabilize.

The Congressional Research Service analyzed the Carter-era WPT and called it a complete failure:

[T]he windfall profits tax was forecasted to raise more than $320 billion between 1980 and 1989. However, according to the CRS, the government collected only $80 billion in gross tax revenue ($146 billion in 2004 dollars). The net amount was actually less than this—roughly $40 billion—because the tax was deductible against corporate income.

CRS also found the windfall profits tax had the effect of decreasing domestic production by 3 percent to 6 percent, thereby increasing American dependence on foreign oil sources by 8 percent to 16 percent. A side effect was declining, not increasing, tax collections. Figure 1 clearly shows that while the tax raised considerable revenue in the initial years following its enactment, those revenues declined to almost nothing as the domestic industry collapsed.

The 1980 windfall profits tax was also found to be highly burdensome for the industry to comply with and for the Internal Revenue Service to administer, especially in years when no revenue was raised. It seems unlikely that a new tax could be designed in a less burdensome fashion. Tax Foundation economists estimate that U.S. companies currently spend nearly $150 billion annually to comply with the federal income tax alone. Enacting a new windfall profits tax would add an additional layer of complexity to the federal tax system.

And the most obvious point of all is that the rebates will only give us a one-time relief for the high gas prices, while the new tax will raise the cost of production and delivery for years.  Does Obama believe that consumers don’t pay the price for taxation at the pump?  And even if that didn’t happen, the 10% margin for the oil industry supports the shareholder price for these companies — in which millions of Americans have money invested through retirement accounts and other investments.  Draining the worth of the stock will cost retirement accounts much more than a thousand dollars over the length of the investment, meaning that Obama is stealing from the rich and the middle- and working-class alike just to play Robin Hood now.

Note the use of the word “Emergency” carefully.  Democrats in Congress don’t consider fuel prices an emergency; they just skedaddled for the summer without bothering to debate drilling.  However, it makes for a nice title for those who want to take drastic action, such as nationalizing industries or slapping on huge new regulatory and tax burdens on the private sector.  The desired result: making us a dependent class on the government and undermining investors.

We don’t need Robin Hood redistributionism.  We certainly don’t need a return to Jimmy Carter’s disastrous energy policies.  We need common sense policies that remove government as a roadblock to responsible energy production.  Obviously, Democrats can’t deliver that.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Obviously this fails as an energy policy.

What it really is is a bribe for votes.

drjohn on August 1, 2008 at 2:41 PM

What it really is is a bribe for votes.

drjohn on August 1, 2008 at 2:41 PM

No kidding. And what liberal voters wouldn’t love the idea of their Messiah wearing tights to steal from the rich to give to them.

shick on August 1, 2008 at 2:47 PM

I’m feeling ill. I post about considering voting for Obama because of Republican bad ecological policy and then Obama suggests ideas this moronic? And I hate all the third party candidates. Maybe, I’ll just go to the voting booth, pick my nose and avoid touching any buttons, and leave.

I usually try so hard to pick someone from the two major parties–just because I think we should try to make a decision.

thuja on August 1, 2008 at 2:50 PM

Recall the clip from Obama’s plane where the women of the press were yelling at the female Secret Service agent to sit down. Imagine their urgency had Obama been wearing tights!

Girder on August 1, 2008 at 3:00 PM

drjohn on August 1, 2008 at 2:41 PM

that is exactly right…vote for me and get a one time check for $1,000…and you get higher gas prices and more government…thank god im the messiah and I can make jimmy carters failed policies work…you should all be lucky you can vote or me in november

SoCalInfidel on August 1, 2008 at 3:07 PM

Now we don’t like Robin Hood because he was a proto-socialist? /eyeroll

Such penetrating analysis. Perhaps next we can decry the early church for being a bunch of Communist Theocrats. It’d make about as much sense.

TheUnrepentantGeek on August 1, 2008 at 3:29 PM

TheUnrepentantGeek on August 1, 2008 at 3:29 PM –

If you look at the earliest days of the Christian church, you will find, for reasons of safety and support, many many Christians lived communally…and their societlal leadership was indeed built around those who had the knowledge and understanding of the teachings of Christ, so, yep…communist theocrats isn’t all that outlandish.

[Sister Mary Agnese (if I recall) pointed this communal living thing out to us back in the 1960's, after a few of us mentioned we'd like to head off and join a commune.]

coldwarrior on August 1, 2008 at 3:49 PM

Barry just wants to buy your vote.

JimK on August 1, 2008 at 5:14 PM

Redistribution of the wealth, a Socialist’s mantra. Not a big surprise coming from Scary Barry.

UnEasyRider on August 1, 2008 at 6:00 PM

socialism – not a whiff of diff from chavez and mugabe and fidel.

and it will destroy the usa.

make no mistake about it: obama and reid and pelosi will pass this if obama is elected.

and then target walmart and talk radio and go on the rampage for the NEA and the SEIU and AFSCME.

it will take another massive reagan-thatcher revolution to undo it. and er um…. i don’t see anyone of that stature around.

a vote for obama is a vote for the destruction of the USA as a superpower.

and that would make the leftists and the jihadists happy.

reliapundit on August 1, 2008 at 6:36 PM

“This rebate will be enough to offset the increased cost of gas for a working family over the next four months,” Obama said.”

Sorry, Ed, but “the most obvious point of all is that” no one will be seeing this money over the next four months, unless Obama intends to take time out of his busy schedule to wave his magic wand over Congress. This is not a serious proposal, it’s the Abracadabra Pandermania Plan. Just fill in the blank: If I were the President, I would…..

JM Hanes on August 1, 2008 at 6:51 PM

Robin Hood is the analogy that came also to my mind, when first I heard of this cockamamie idea of Obama’s for an ‘economic plan’.

Robin Hood + Karl Marx = Barak Obama

petefrt on August 1, 2008 at 7:06 PM

Dumb plan.

Terrye on August 1, 2008 at 8:30 PM

“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his needs.” – Barack Obama, July 2008.

Django on August 2, 2008 at 12:02 AM

My god people….this fool cannot be elected! Let’s make sure of it.

Winebabe on August 2, 2008 at 2:53 AM

Obama & Pelosi, two sides of the same coin bearing Marx’s image.

Prevent the Marxist DILLETANT DNC from serving Jim Crow to us all this Thanksgiving!

“Just Say NO!”

Remove the gavel from Pelosi; vote AGAINST democrats.
Leave her in the minority and she loses!

VOTE CONSERVATIVE:
FOR THE US CONSTITUTION
FOR AMERICA
FOR YOUR FAMILY
FOR YOURSELF

Survive and Thrive ’08
Pump, Produce, Prosper!

maverick muse on August 2, 2008 at 9:45 AM

In Marx We Trust
DNC

In God We Trust.
To thyself be true.
Conservative

maverick muse on August 2, 2008 at 9:48 AM

Dear Leader knows what is best for us. He knows that we must all share in misery to understand our fellow man.

James on August 2, 2008 at 10:29 AM

carbon_footprint on August 1, 2008 at 12:26 PM

Buying votes is what it is.
Sickening.

It’s South Side Chicago community politics, which formed Obama’s political identity early on. Get money, support, projects, subsidies, for the poor, from the govt. This is as natural as breathing to Obama. It’s his modus operandi.

Paul-Cincy on August 2, 2008 at 2:00 PM

“I am not a pander bear. I am not Santa Claus” — Paul Tsongas 1992

“I am a pander bear. I am Santa Claus” — Barack Obama 2008

Paul-Cincy on August 2, 2008 at 2:02 PM

But if the government undertakes to control and to raise wages, and cannot do it; if the government undertakes to care for all who may be in want, and cannot do it; if the government undertakes to support all unemployed workers, and cannot do it; if the government undertakes to lend interest-free money to all borrowers, and cannot do it; if …. ‘The state considers that its purpose is to enlighten, to develop, to enlarge, to strengthen, to spiritualize, and to sanctify the soul of the people’ — and if the government cannot do all of these things, what then? Is it not certain that after every government failure — which, alas! is more than probable — there will be an equally inevitable revolution?

-Frederic Bastiat, “The Law,” June, 1850

It’s been more than 150 years since Frederic Bastiat wrote his treatise, The Law, a small work, challenging the ravages of failing socialism thrust upon France as a result of the French revolution.

Entelechy on August 2, 2008 at 4:01 PM

If you look at the earliest days of the Christian church, you will find, for reasons of safety and support, many many Christians lived communally…and their societlal leadership was indeed built around those who had the knowledge and understanding of the teachings of Christ, so, yep…communist theocrats isn’t all that outlandish.

coldwarrior on August 1, 2008 at 3:49 PM

Its beyond outlandish and dead wrong. What Bible are you reading? Point me to anything Jesus ever said that advocated any kind of socialism. Or give me any reference in the Old Testament that embraced any kind of socialist/Communist ideology, it doesn’t exist. Those ideas are anathema the Christian teachings. Communal living for whatever extent that existed does NOT mean they lived in a commune. Living in a community does not make one a Communism.

Maxx on August 2, 2008 at 6:08 PM

There are references in the Acts of the Apostles that the early Christians did pool their wealth in a sort of a commune for use by the needy members. A big difference from modern communism is that the sharing was voluntary which makes that roughly equivalent to todays individual charity contributions.

docdave on August 4, 2008 at 5:36 AM

Comment pages: 1 2