Today’s Must Read
Jeff G.’s been talking about this for years. Tim Cavenaugh dissects the process of how the liberal media change the meaning of Obama’s words. Those “you didn’t build that” words.
The president’s supporters have a multipronged counterargument: Either he didn’t make those comments or they were taken out of context or even if they are in context they don’t matter because we should be reading between the lines.
Quick review; what he actually said:
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
Obama defenders argue that he was talking about that road, that businesses didn’t build.
Of course, that argument is sill as well.
But, regardless, the left is accusing the right of distorting Obama’s words. David Taintor called it a “textbook case of how a distortion can emerge” from the right-wing propaganda soup of blogs and FauxNews. David Wegal says Obama merely rambled; he probably left off a sentence or a clause.
It is apparently ‘intellectually dishonest’, as a commenter to one post suggested, to take Obama’s words at face value.
Now for the meat of the post
The popularization of Derridaian post-modernism since the 1990s has generally been a lot of fun, turning mainstream Americans into sharp observers of signs and meaning who are sure that either there’s nothing outside the text or everything is outside the text or both. But at some point it helps to look at that thing above the subtext, which is generally known as “the text.” Up to this point the presidential election has been Obama vs. Obama Junior. With “You didn’t build that,” which his campaign has made no effort to clarify or redirect, the president has drawn a line in the sand.
It means what we say it means. That’s the argument of the left.
Zombie takes Obama’s premise and runs with it. And this is what she comes up with:
OK. Fine. Let’s absolutely concede this point to Obama and Warren: There are some government activities that benefit us all, including business owners.
And for the sake of argument let’s just allow for a moment that the federal government is the best, most efficient and only supplier of these benefits. You win, Elizabeth and Barack.
But having conceded this central point, let us now ask the key follow-up question, which is the first leg of their three-point hypothesis: What percentage of the federal budget is devoted to these universally beneficial public works?
And if you’re a progressive reading this, you’d better get off the stool because it’s about to fall down.
So, being as generous as possible, how much of the federal budget is devoted to doing what only the government can, for the good of us all?
Only one-fourth of your federal tax dollars go to projects and programs that benefit the general public and entrepreneurs; the other three-fourths are essentially a complete waste, or are at best optional.
So, 23.4% of of that money is
building repairing bridges and roads, employing a teacher, and protecting our national interests.
The rest? Not the “common” good. Not helping you and I succeed.
James Taranto on more unraveling of the meaning behind Obama’s words.
Politico.com reports that the president, in an interview with WTOL-TV of Toledo, Ohio, let the mask slip again when asked about the ObamaCare mandate tax. “It’s less a tax or a penalty than it is a principle–which is you can’t be a freeloader on other folks when it comes to your health care, if you can afford it,” he said.
At it’s face, it sounds ok. Much of what Obama says sounds reasonable, and that’s why so many folks nod-along with him in agreement. But let’s unpack that just a bit. Add a bit of thought to what he said, underneath the propaganda.
What’s objectionable about Obama’s comment, however, is not “tax” or “penalty” or even “principle.” It’s the way he uses the word “freeloader.”
Normally we think of a freeloader as somebody who sponges off others, which in the context of public policy means the government. A freeloader is an able-bodied welfare recipient, or someone who fakes a disability to collect Supplemental Security income, or who waits until his unemployment runs out before looking for a job.
Now, think about how the ObamaCare mandate tax is structured. As Roberts noted in his opinion for the court in NFIB v. Sebelius, “It does not apply to individuals who do not pay federal income taxes because their household income is less than the filing threshold in the Internal Revenue Code. For taxpayers who do owe the payment, its amount is determined by such familiar factors as taxable income, number of dependents, and joint filing status.”
The only people who pay the ObamaCare mandate tax are people who make a living. Actual freeloaders are exempt. What Obama calls a freeloader is someone who makes his own money and pays his taxes but does not spend his money in the government-approved way.
So, the freeloaders are going to continue to … freeload.