Monday, February 07, 2011


Oh, bloody hell -- Real Clear Politics posted a short excerpt from President Obama's Chamber of Commerce speech under the headline "Obama: Corporate Profits 'Have To Be Shared By American Workers.'" The quote:

"If we're fighting to reform the tax code and increase exports to help you compete, the benefits can't just translate into greater profits and bonuses for those at the top. They have to be shared by American workers, who need to know that expanding trade and opening markets will lift their standard of living as well as your bottom line."

Obama does this on a fairly regular basis: he says something that's perfectly reasonable to a normal human being, but is a negative dog whistle to his haters. The most famous example was his "spread the wealth around" remark to Joe the Plumber on the campaign trail.

This one's similar. Reasonable people know what he means: that the system has to work in such a way that when there's a rising tide -- increasing corporate profits, stronger GDP -- ordinary citizens benefit as well as CEOs and big shareholders. No rational person would object to that. Obama, I suspect, would be perfectly happy if that just happened as a result of the free market's invisible hand. (So would I.) But it doesn't -- not in the economy as it's structured today, and as it's been structured for a long time.

If you think about it, he's asking for the economy to work the way right-wingers say it should. Right-wingers say that showering wealth on the rich in the form of tax cuts inevitably helps the rest of us. They say they want the rest of us to be helped, which is why they want the tax rates of the wealthy to be reduced. So, see, right-wingers want corporate profits to be "shared" by American workers. Right-wingers want to "spread the wealth around." In the immortal words of George W. Bush:

"You bet I cut the taxes at the top. That encourages entreprene­urship. What we Republican­s should stand for is growth in the economy. We ought to make the pie higher."

The implication being: more pie for everybody!

The howls about what Obama said today are just beginning on the right. Those howls will continue forever. It's that damn word "share." It's a red flag to a wingnut bull.

So we have this from Gateway Pundit: "Socialist in Chief: Obama Tells American Businessess That Profits Must Be Shared With Workers." And this from Weasel Zippers: "Marxist-in-Chief: Corporate Profits 'Have To Be Shared By American Workers.'" And this from Hot Air: "Obama to Chamber of Commerce: Learn to Share." These guys are going to quote this remark for years -- literally for as long as Obama is a national figure.

I really wish the president would either learn how to avoid these unintended reverse dog whistles ... or learn how to use them in ways that harm the right rather than fuel its rage.

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