November 24, 2013

University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor "Rebecca M. Blank was a top candidate in 2011 to lead President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, but" she said a bad word.

Redistribution!

“A commitment to economic justice necessarily implies a commitment to the redistribution of economic resources, so that the poor and the dispossessed are more fully included in the economic system,” Ms. Blank, a noted poverty researcher, wrote in 1992....

“Redistribution is a loaded word that conjures up all sorts of unfairness in people’s minds,” said William M. Daley, who was Mr. Obama’s chief of staff at the time. Republicans wield it “as a hammer” against Democrats, he said, adding, “It’s a word that, in the political world, you just don’t use.”

These days the word is particularly toxic at the White House, where it has been hidden away to make the Affordable Care Act more palatable to the public and less a target for Republicans, who have long accused Democrats of seeking “socialized medicine.” But the redistribution of wealth has always been a central feature of the law and lies at the heart of the insurance market disruptions driving political attacks this fall.
Boldface added.

The linked article is in the NYT, which does not omit the old story of Obama campaigning in 2008, running into "Joe the Plumber," and blabbing jovially about how he wanted to "spread the wealth around."

I love this sentence:
In the end, America’s political culture may have made it unrealistic to expect a smooth public reception for the law, no matter how cleverly the White House modulated Mr. Obama’s language or shaped his policy to minimize the number of losers.
Let me paraphrase that for you: Obama had to lie to get the law passed.

When we the people don't want something, in a democracy that should work to stop it. We're voters, not some agglomerated "culture" to be softened and shaped. If we didn't want it, you shouldn't have done it. It's good that cleverness and manipulation did not overcome that reality. Of course, the law got passed, because people had voted in representatives who had the grandiosity to believe they didn't need to represent us, that trickily crafted policies and rhetoric would be enough. Fortunately, those representatives were wrong, and they richly deserve all the political pain they've got to go through now.

46 comments:

MadisonMan said...

Let me paraphrase that for you: Obama had to lie to get the law passed.

Bingo.

But a politician always has to lie.

YoungHegelian said...

We're voters, not some agglomerated "culture" to be softened and shaped.

"And, here, comrades, is proof positive that, in spite of the benighted consciousness of the lumpenproleteriat, every now & then, one of them will break out with a wry piece of earthy humor."

rehajm said...

...that trickily crafted policies and rhetoric would be enough. Fortunately, they were wrong...

Do we now know this? How do we know this? Based on where we've been, we're nowhere near out of the woods...

David said...

From the article:

“Americans want a fair and fixed insurance market,” said Jonathan Gruber, a health economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who advised Mr. Obama’s team as it designed the law. “You cannot have that without some redistribution away from a small number of people.”

Small. Tiny. Hardly visible. Infinitesimal. (And plus it doesn't affect ME.)

Just like the lie. A tiny little lie.

From a tiny little president.

Ann Althouse said...

"Do we now know this? How do we know this? Based on where we've been, we're nowhere near out of the woods…"

Yes, you're right. As to the things we've have been tricked about, what can we say?

YoungHegelian said...

I guess Prof. Blank just didn't pay attention to poor ole' Prof. Lani Guinier.

Unless you've got high-level cover, like Van Jones, being up front about one's socialist leanings in print can be troublesome in American politics. But, take heart, all you sweet-hearted & good-intentioned Fabians out there, it's less so all the time.

cubanbob said...

“Americans want a fair and fixed insurance market,” said Jonathan Gruber, a health economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who advised Mr. Obama’s team as it designed the law. “You cannot have that without some redistribution away from a small number of people.”

Americans may well like it in the abstract but individually when they have to pay for it not so much.

Rob said...

Pretty much every Democratic policy position, at least with respect to domestic issues, is fundamentally about redistribution. Viewing seemingly disparate policies through that prism is a valuable analytic tool.

Pettifogger said...

"We're voters, not some agglomerated 'culture' to be softened and shaped."

That we are the government's to shape and remake as the clerisy deems best is intrinsic to the Progressive world view. Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot all tried it. Our culture and institutions won't permit anything that extreme at present. But what our Progressives are trying to do is different only in degree, not in kind.

rehajm said...

Pretty much every Democratic policy position, at least with respect to domestic issues, is fundamentally about redistribution.

This. Though i'd go farther and posit every Democratic policy position is merely political cover for redistribution. Can't exactly jump straight to voiding property rights, now can we?

Terry said...

The lie isn't that there was no redistribution. The lie was that it would go from the rich to the poor. Instead it going from the middle class to the poor.
How many people noticed that the deal to avert the fiscal cliff last January raised more taxes via a 2% increase in the FICA tax than it did from a modest income tax increase on high earners?

rehajm said...

The lie was that it would go from the rich to the poor. Instead it going from the middle class to the poor.

It's less of a lie and more about the complete ignorance of economic realities. Who is taxed and who bears the economic burden of that tax are usually quite different.

pm317 said...

Haha, she let the cat out of the bag, inadvertently of course.

Dr.D said...

Can't have anyone being open about the "secret agenda." That would never do!

Paul said...

"Pretty much every Democratic policy position, at least with respect to domestic issues, is fundamentally about redistribution."

Which is to say Democrats are socialists as the bedrock principal of socialism is the confiscation and redistribution of wealth from the politically disfavored to the politically favored, by a central authoritarian government.

Which is to say that Democrats are fundamentally anti-American, as the country was founded on the principals of individual liberty, property rights, and freedom from tyranny.

Will Richardson said...

The idea that "redistribution of economic resources" promotes the result that the "poor and the dispossessed are more fully included in the economic system", is the kind of "progressive" logic that astounds me. It equates participation in the economic system to consumption made possible only because real participants in the economic system produce goods and services. Separating consumption from production necessarily alienates the "poor and dispossessed" from the economic system.

Trashhauler said...

One can practice redistribution, so long as the word is not used.

Is there any progressive goal that isn't hidden behind obfuscation and deceit?

Dr Weevil said...

How tone-deaf are Obama's advisers? Did one of them really say "Americans want a fair and fixed insurance market", without noticing that 'fixed' also means 'manipulated, like the roulette wheel in a crooked casino'? We all suspect that Obamacare will be sending good Democrats and major contributors to the head of the line, but you'd think they'd be a bit more careful about coming out and saying so. Perhaps a gulity conscience caused a Freudian slip?

YoungHegelian said...

@WR,

It equates participation in the economic system to consumption made possible only because real participants in the economic system produce goods and services.

You would think this would be even more obvious to the Left than the Right, since the quotation from you above fits in perfectly with Marxist economics.

lemondog said...

At about 1:28:

Obama In 1998: "I Actually Believe In Redistribution"

Our whole government economics is redistributive. Federal income tax is redistributive. Forbes was the last presidential prospect to advocate for a flat tax and he fell flat.

Paco Wové said...

"Americans want a fair and fixed insurance market,' said Jonathan Gruber"

Jonathan Gruber? Not meretricious grovelling cocksucker Jonathan Gruber, who got paid over a quarter-million dollars by the Feds to flog this turkey, and rarely seems to bother to disclose it?

Tim said...

redistribution - they always want to redistribute my money, not their own.If only these "elites" would take a 50% pay cut I might think they were as caring as they think they are.

EDH said...

It should be pointed out that this misbegotten Obama administration through its policies has increased income and wealth inequality.

Note: this observation is being made across the political spectrum.

Perhaps the only example of Obama bringing people together.

Leit Bart said...

This piece from Pileus is worth reading. The author says Obama violated the fundamental law of politics with Obamacare, and that law is: make your tax broad, hidden, and diffuse so people never realize how much more they are paying.

Essentially, "don't tax you, don't tax me, tax that man behind the tree." Or, don't turn the heat up too fast on the frog in your pot. Too late for the Ds, this jig is up.

http://pileusblog.wordpress.com/2013/11/08/even-obama-cant-violate-fundamental-laws-of-politics/

Bob Boyd said...

"When we the people don't want something, in a democracy that should work to stop it."

How quaint.
But my dear, credentials have been awarded, studies done, papers published, consensus developed policies drafted. Careers are at stake!
Madam please...you don't yet know the meaning of the word want.

n.n said...

No, we are a clump of cells to be molded for a minority's benefit.

As for the mandate, many Americans, and perhaps a majority, wanted a quick fix. Whether it was expanded Medicaid or single-payer, reform was not the goal.

Redistributive change is recycled change is change with a diminishing return. It is chosen because economic development is hard, and charitable donations and works are uncomfortable, without an instant or immediate return.

Hagar said...

"From each according to his ability; to each according to his need."

Socialist want to achieve this by educating "the masses."
Communists say, "That's too slow; we will just take power with guns and show them how great socialism is."
Progressives don't have the stomach for that, so they try lies and trickery instead.

But everywhere it has been tried, it has proved that force is necessary to implement socialism, and everybody do not wind up equal; those with the power to enforce the "equality" somehow wind up a lot more equal than the rest of us.

Rusty said...

How do I know this will be a disaster.

Danno said...

I found the following (in the article) very interesting, "Mr. Obama’s advisers set out to pass the law in 2009 fully aware that fears among middle-class voters sank President Bill Clinton’s health initiative 16 years earlier. So they designed the legislation to minimize the number of people likely to be hurt." It shows they are "do-gooders" that can't do.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Suppose we stipulate that bottom-up economic growth is a good thing no matter what stimulates it.

Someone please explanation why wealth redistribution is both fair and sustainable. Please be explicit.

El Pollo Raylan said...

The success of the ACA crucially depends on illegal aliens signing up for it. That in turn depends on them being recognized under immigration reform. What's not discussed is whether they in fact are clamoring to join the taxable economy and whether, given a chance, they would sign onto IRS scrutiny which many currently avoid.

lemondog said...

This is a democracy and I run it!

lemondog said...

Ps...waiting for Meade's dog du jour photo.

garage mahal said...

Is ObamaCare just one big distraction from Benghazi?

Michael K said...

"Pretty much every Democratic policy position, at least with respect to domestic issues, is fundamentally about redistribution. Viewing seemingly disparate policies through that prism is a valuable analytic tool."

Health insurance used to be about avoiding economic disaster from serious illness. Actuaries can predict fairly well how to price this. The middle class wants this sort of protection.

As far as the poor is concerned, they can be protected by other mechanisms, like the big public hospitals and clinics that used to exist and were devastated by Medicaid.

The left wants to pretend that everyone is equal and does so by forcing the middle class into mechanisms for the poor. The rich, of course, are not subject to these manipulations and support the left.

In Britain in the 70s, the labor unions refused to allow private patients in NHS hospitals with amenities like telephones. So, private physician moved to Belgium. A Labour party health minister was caught having her hysterectomy in Belgium by a private doc.

That helped to lead to Thatcher.

Douglas said...

Most political choices boil down to a choice between the claims of equity and efficiency. (You could also call these equality and freedom.) Choosing one means less of the other. Wise policy consists of picking the right balance. Once upon a time, the Democrats understood this. Today, they believe, or at least claim to believe (with cover from voodoo economists like Stiglitz), that no such choice is necessary - that they can have all the redistributive equality they want without any adverse effects on economic growth. The last five years of Democratic rule are pretty good evidence that they are wrong about this.

Crimso said...

"But a politician always has to lie."

Well, CNN.com actually has a story up insisting that all of our Presidents have lied, many of them have told big lies, and (most importantly) some of those who "had" to tell us big lies were among our greatest Presidents.

We have gone way past the point where you say "You just can't make this shit up!" to express our disbelief. If a story came out tomorrow saying that Obama tied his dog to the roof of his car, we'd soon be seeing stories by supposed journalists assuring us that our greatest Presidents have tied their dogs to the roofs of their cars, yes even Waashington and Lincoln did it.

Crimso said...

"Is ObamaCare just one big distraction from Benghazi?"

Thanks for reminding me. I'd forgotten. PPACA is that big of a clusterfuck. Next up to keep Benghazi and the IRS off the front page: nuclear Iran and the fun they'll have.

Seriously, can this Administration do one fucking thing competently, other than campaign?

Cheryl said...

I've been reading your blog for a very long time. Your last paragraph in this post is my favorite thing you've ever written. Thanks.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Cheryl.

chrisnavin.com said...

I agree about that last paragraph Althouse, you've nailed the progressive, collectivist, redistributionist mind:

Here's a quote discussing David Byrne, former Talking Heads front-man, and being taxed to pay for the arts.

'This may be the essence of the statist mind: that an abstracted aggregate of other people ought to be devoting their energies to the effort I deem noble. It’s from there that the demands flow. The collectivist is not asking you to give up expenditures on your hobby to support his (even if his has been fashioned into a career), he’s asking the abstract aggregate to change its trajectory or support the arts or something nebulous and lofty like that. Cargo Culture springs into being when such demands are met.’

Link here

Paul Zrimsek said...

We can all agree with Garage that it would be a good thing for the country if this administration could limit itself to totally fucking up just one thing at a time. But right now that's looking like too much to wish for.

Real American said...

gosh, you write that, Professor, as if you didn't vote for the lying son of a bitch. the smart people knew he was lying before he was elected. It was the smart people that knew he was lying when he first promised people could keep their health plans and their doctors under his "reform." It was the smart people that knew that when he said he wanted to spread the wealth around to Joe the Plumber that he was finally telling the truth, and we were called liars!

It was the smart people who saw this man was an inexperienced and unaccomplished con man. You saw what you wanted to see: a black candidate who wasn't THE Black Candidate, so why not vote for him and be part of HISTORY? Well, now is why not. You were the rubes who wanted what he promised: change. It was the smart people who know that change isn't the same thing as improvement.

Redistribution has been Obama's plan all along. The smart people saw it coming and voted for the other guys and gal.

Robert Cook said...

Oh, horrors! Someone mentioned "redistribution!"

Shit, redistribution of assets is what all economic planning is about in every country in the world, including this one. The point is who decides how and to whom (and from whom) the assets are redistributed, and for what purposes?

Everyone here getting the vapors imagining Bolsheviks taking their money to reward the (alleged) leeches at the bottom have it exactly backwards: the government, in service to its true constituents, (the plutocrats--the wealthy and powerful who own this country), redistributes money from the middle and lower classes upwards to the rich.

If you want to complain about welfare thieves, the greatest leeches of our assets who have ever existed--look to the richest of the rich who still want--and take--more and more.

Gahrie said...

If you want to complain about welfare thieves, the greatest leeches of our assets who have ever existed--look to the richest of the rich who still want--and take--more and more.

We get it Bob..free market capitalism is evil.....even though it has produced the highest standard of living for the greatest number of people in history. It has produced a society so wealthy and healthy that the biggest problem facing the poor is obesity.

Give it up Bob...even the North Koreans and the Cubans have.

RecChief said...

I notice this wasn't a disavowal of her utterances, juat that it would be politically impossible to elevate her to a post of greater importance because she said it aloud. Despite disagreeing with her view, I have more respect for her than the President, who can't bring himself to say it aloud, fearing that if he was truthful, it might be unpopular with the masses.