Tim Carney notes that, five years into his presidency, President Obama’s speeches about the economy failing the middle and working class sound a lot like indictments of his own record. Obama himself is either honestly or calculatedly oblivious to this, but the facts are the facts:
Obama’s first term, with all its tax hikes, regulations, mandates, subsidies and bailouts, saw stock markets rise, corporate earnings break records and the rich get richer, while median income stagnated and unemployment remained stubbornly high.
Obama rightly calls the last few years “a winner-take-all economy where a few are doing better and better and better, while everybody else just treads water.”
Median household income has fallen by 5 percent since 2009 — when the recession ended and Obama came into office — as the Wall Street Journal pointed out after Obama’s speech. But corporate profits and the stock market keep hitting record highs.
How does Obama think these are points in his favor?
If he’s using this data to prove he’s no Marxist, fine. Point granted. But Obama seems to think that middle-class and working-class stagnation under Obamanomics somehow calls for more Obamanomics.
Today, Obama spoke at an Amazon warehouse. Amazon announced this week that it would add thousands of jobs at its distribution centers in the near future. Great news! Here’s the part that’s galling about Amazon. Back when it was smaller and strictly an online presence, Amazon was staunchly anti-Internet sales tax. When it decided to expand its footprint and get on the ground in many states with these distribution centers, it decided the freedom that allowed it to become a bigger business was just too much for any other up-and-comers to handle (and wouldn’t it be annoying to have to compete with them?). The retailer switched positions to join its former opponent, big, brick-and-mortar Wal-Mart, on the issue. The so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act” is another layer of taxation, another layer of regulation— liberal-approved and Obama-supported.
So, who does it help and who does it hurt? It’s no coincidence that it’s big retailers who back to new tax regulation, which passed the Senate 69-27:
The MFA is anything but fair, because instead of leveling the playing field, it would tilt it decidedly against online retailers, particularly small ones. Brick-and-mortar stores would still have to collect sales taxes only where they are physically present. Online retailers would have to collect sales taxes from the nearly 10,000 sales tax jurisdictions around the country where their customers live. That is not an equal burden.
The big online retailers can handle this burden because they have large corporate accounting departments. Small online retailers like the business that just wants to sell Virginia ham and peanuts to hungry customers around the country would be smothered by the cost of complying with so many sales taxes. Not to mention that they would be subject to time-consuming and expensive audits from 46 sales tax states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and possessions, Puerto Rico, and Native American tribes.
Complexity is a subsidy for those who can afford a lawyer. The new, big Amazon can afford the best. The new, would-be Amazon cannot.
Let’s check out another liberal-approved remedy for the tilted big-guy economy, mentioned in the run-up to Obama’s speech today:
During a meeting earlier this month with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said he pressed Obama to issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to provide higher wages.
“He said it’s something that he would take a close look at,” said Ellison, the co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “He should seriously look at doing that because he might be able to help a whole bunch of workers.”
Again, who does this hurt and who does it help? Who could withstand an arbitrary hike in the wages they’re required to pay employees? Well-connected, large contractors with established, lucrative government contracts or a small business that would like to break into the market for government contracts?
But hey, it’s not like there’s any record of well-connected Obama donors and bundlers getting lavish government contracts, plum jobs, great pub, and loans for dubious business endeavors in the guise of stimulus. I’m sure they’re all looking forward to the next influx of stimulating cash from the rest of us. This is, of course, an inherent problem of big, crony government, not just Obama, but his deep commitment to business as usual (and then some) while simultaneously calling it beautiful and transformative is remarkable.
Obama often emphasizes that “playing by the rules” should get you a fair shake and a chance to get ahead in this country. The pitch is meant for the middle and working class, but his rules, in practice, are rigged against them.