Column: Obama versus Castro

WASHINGTON -- In arguing against extending the Bush-era tax cuts for "the wealthy," President Obama claims the government can't afford to "borrow" the estimated $700 billion he says it will "cost government." What about the cost of tax increases ...

Barack Obama
File Photo: Seeking early support from organized labor, Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., addresses the Building and Construction Trades Legislative Conference meeting at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, in this file photo from Wednesday, April 20, 2005. The president-elect drew plenty of support from moderates, but the liberal side of the Democratic Party followed him most resoundingly: labor unions, influential Internet blogs and legions of grassroots volunteers. (AP ...

WASHINGTON -- In arguing against extending the Bush-era tax cuts for "the wealthy," President Obama claims the government can't afford to "borrow" the estimated $700 billion he says it will "cost government." What about the cost of tax increases for those earning the money? It's funny how the president doesn't mind borrowing money that has put us on a trajectory for a national debt exceeding $13 trillion.

The question ought not be why people making more than $250,000 a year ($125,000 if one is married and filing separately) should be allowed to keep more of the money they earn. The question is: why should people be required to surrender more of the money they earn to dysfunctional government, which misspends so much of it on unnecessary, outdated and failed programs?

If Republicans mistakenly allow themselves to again be suckered into the class warfare of the past, they will lose. If they shift the debate to how the federal government (and many state governments like California, Illinois and New York) have wasted money we entrusted to them, they can prevail.

Where you start determines where you finish. If the argument begins with how much of our money the government will allow us to keep, the successful and those who wish to be successful, lose. If the argument begins with how government has misspent our money and does not deserve any more until it gets its house in order, we all win. And let's not have any of this business about cutting spending and raising taxes at the same time, because that will only ensure that higher taxes will remain while spending will eventually increase.

After what appeared to be a trap set for him on "Face the Nation" last Sunday, during which House Republican Leader John Boehner said he would vote for a bill that allows taxes to be raised on those making more than $250,000 a year while preserving cuts for those making less, if that were his only option, Boehner engaged in damage control in an opinion column for Politico.


Boehner wrote: "Cut nonsecurity government spending for the next year to fiscal 2008 levels -- before all of the bailouts, government takeovers and stimulus spending sprees began" and "Enact a two-year freeze on all current tax rates to stop job-killing tax hikes on families and small businesses."

Prominent Democrats, including a growing number in Congress, agree. They include former Obama Budget Director Peter Orszag, who endorsed a two-year tax freeze in a Sept. 6 column for The New York Times.

Meanwhile, under the category of "I never thought I'd live long enough to see this," Cuba has announced it will lay off 500,000 government workers while simultaneously attempting to create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the private sector. Cuba has a private sector? This follows an interview in The Atlantic Monthly in which Fidel Castro was quoted as saying, "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore." Castro subsequently claimed he was mistranslated, but his government's actions speak louder than his attempt to retract his reported comment.

Castro's apparent compromise with his ideologically pure communist ideology will surely disappoint the Hollywood elite and others who have visited Cuba and praised Castro, as well as Cuba's health care and schools (while ignoring those in prison, executions and other human rights violations). Imagine the rebuke to liberal ideology if the Cuban economy were to reverse itself and capitalism replaced socialism as the prevailing economic system.

Would such a challenge to the Obama administration's policy of "spreading the wealth around" force it to change course as well? Cuba, of course, has no wealth to spread around, but if it is serious and this is not a ploy for capital infusion to save its crumbling economy, things could quickly get interesting 90 miles off the Florida coast.

The coming election and the one in 2012 are about whether America should continue to move toward big government socialism, or back toward independence and self-reliance. Perhaps Fidel Castro has learned what we seem to have forgotten. Viva capitalist Cuba!

Direct all mail for Cal Thomas to: Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, N.Y. 14207. Readers may also e-mail him at .

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