Apparently, the “fairness” argument by itself wasn’t selling the Buffett Rule for Barack Obama. With the election approaching and his approval numbers on the economy tanking, Obama decided to add another argument — that the Buffett Rule was a means to stimulate economic growth:
“As many Americans rush to file their taxes this weekend, it’s worth pointing out that we’ve got a tax system that doesn’t always uphold the principle of everyone doing their part,” Obama said in the address posted online Saturday.
“This is not just about fairness, this is also about growth,” he added. “It’s about being able to make the investments we need to strengthen our economy and create jobs. And it’s about whether we as a country are willing to pay for those investments.[“]
First, in order to believe that, you have to buy the notion that economic growth in the private sector occurs when government seizes capital from the private sector. Obama’s stimulus plan should have killed that notion dead, and all that did was seize future capital through massive borrowing. Seizure of capital only retards economic growth by taking capital out of the marketplace, or at best reducing it significantly through bureaucratic overhead and transferring it to inefficient uses. After all, no one has a problem investing in efficient and productive organizations, so government intervention isn’t necessary.
But the truly laughable part of this argument is the scale. Estimates of the annual revenue from the Buffett Rule range between $3.1 billion and $4.7 billion. The American economy is around $15 trillion dollars. Even taking the best case and assuming $4.7 billion in revenue that would have not been put to any productive use in the hands of those from whom it was taken, it would amount to a whopping 0.0313% of the American economy. (For that matter, it’s only 0.5% of Obama’s proposed FY2013 deficit, and 0.12% of his overall budget.) Even under the theoretical 100% improvement in the use of that capital, the impact wouldn’t be big enough to change the reported annual GDP growth rate at the first decimal point. It’s also worth remembering that Obama spent $3 billion in three weeks on Cash for Clunkers in 2009, and it had no impact at all on auto sales; it just moved demand up by a month.
This is Obamanomics in a nutshell; hyperventilating over 0.0313% of the problem while ignoring the other 99.9687% of it.
Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.
Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!