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When President Barack Obama released his $3.8 trillion budget on Monday he reiterated a familiar theme that has become the centerpiece of his re-election strategy. “We built this budget around the idea that our country has always done best when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same rules,” he said. With all due respect to the president, everyone “playing by the same rules” is completely at odds with the prevailing ethos of the Democratic Party.
To begin, perhaps the president could explain how “playing by the same rules” translates into granting waivers from the healthcare bill. More than 1200 entities were granted the privilege of playing by a completely different set of rules. Furthermore, the bill grants enormous power to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius to continue making up policy as she goes along. As for the bill itself, it is a compendium of rule “variations,” highlighted by two Democratic senators, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, being granted special favors in return for their votes.
While he’s at it perhaps the president could explain how Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano could defy Congress last August when she announced that she will stop deporting illegal aliens who meet the DREAM Act criteria, despite Congress’s refusal to pass that law. Failure to enforce illegal immigration statutes per se is the epitome of playing by two sets of rules, yet this president is willing to up the ante and grant special status to a subset of law-breakers he deems worthy. This might also explain why his Justice Department has sued several states, such as Arizona, Utah, Alabama and South Carolina, for attempting to enforce immigration statutes virtually identical to federal immigration law, even as states that completely defy immigration law with “sanctuary city” policies apparently remain free to do as they please.
In the arena of taxes, playing by the same rules reaches the level of farce. While Mr. Obama is busy haranguing the rich for not paying their fair share, reality is quite different. In 2009 (latest data available), the real “1 percent” of Americans paid 36.7 percent of all federal individual income taxes–but earned only 16.9 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI). In addition, the top 10 percent paid 70 percent of all income taxes, while 47 percent of Americans paid no income taxes at all. One can debate the merits, or lack thereof, of a progressive tax system. But the fact that there is a different set of rules for different Americans is beyond dispute.
Such rule-bending is verging on absurdity. Six House Democrats want to set up a “Reasonable Profits Board” that would impose a tax as high as 100 percent on the sale of oil and gas, on all “surplus” earnings exceeding “a reasonable profit.” Yet profits are not profit margins. From 2006-2010 the nation’s five largest oils companies’ profit margins averaged 6.65 percent. For perspective sake, profit margins for media companies from 2006-2009 were 23 percent. One is left to imagine if such media profits are considered “reasonable” by Democrats. Perhaps they might train their gaze on an Obama administration whose track record of rule-bending with respect to the subsidization of “green” energy companies is a sordid tale of favoritism coupled with dismal results: as of September 2011, 80 percent of the $20.5 billion in loans doled out by the Department of Energy went to the president’s top donors. Donors who apparently play by a different set of rules than most Americans.
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