November 6, 2008


Obama's deft and misleading tax-cut plan (Donald Lambro, November 6, 2008, Washington Times)

Those who think conservatism is dead need to look at how Barack Obama skillfully played the tax cut issue like a Stradivarius. [...]

Mr. Obama knew, as Bill Clinton knew, that he had to find a way to trump the tax cut issue that Republicans had used effectively in election after election and that continued to galvanize voters across the board.

So he devised a plan, like Mr. Clinton, that called for raising taxes on the top 5 percent of American income earners, but offered a $500 to $1,000 refundable tax credit for low- to middle-income taxpayers. [...]

When the race was nearly over, polls showed more Americans believed he was going to lower their taxes than those who said Mr. McCain would lower them more.

"He's been very careful about how he framed his tax position and has bent over backwards not to allow himself to be tagged as a liberal on the tax issue," said Michael Franc, a vice president and policy strategist at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

America still a centre-right country (Gerard Baker, November 06, 2008, Times of London)

[W]hen you think of the macro-political conditions in America in 2008, you are left wondering why the Democrats did not do significantly better.

The US is in its deepest recession in a generation. For the first time in its history a catastrophic financial crisis erupted right in the middle of a general election campaign, one that fatally undermined the incumbent party. An unpopular war in Iraq has destroyed the Republican Party's reputation for national security reliability. The exit poll found that 76 per cent of respondents thought that the country was on the wrong track. Democrats outspent Republicans by two-to-one. It is hard to imagine how circumstances could ever be much better for the Democrats.

Even as Senator Obama's party was winning votes across the country, people were expressing strong support for conservative policies. In the most-watched ballot initiatives (plebiscites) on social issues in many states, there was little sign of a radical new beginning.

Voters in California, Florida and Arizona supported constitutional amendments to outlaw gay marriage. Voters in Arkansas banned adoption by unmarried couples. In Nebraska a measure to end affirmative action in state hiring practices passed easily.

Most remarkable of all, for all the transformation in US politics wrought by the last four years, Americans themselves do not seem to have undergone any great ideological conversion.

In 2004 exit pollsters asked voters how they would identify their politics. The answers were 21 per cent liberal (Left) 45 per cent moderate and 34 per cent conservative. On this election day, the same question elicited these responses: 22 per cent liberal; 44 per cent moderate and 34 per cent conservative.

President Obama and his jubilant supporters in Congress will surely not need reminding that this is still a centre-right country.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at November 6, 2008 8:48 AM
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