Jonah Goldberg

"Now, this kind of inequality -- a level that we haven't seen since the Great Depression -- hurts us all," he declared. "When middle-class families can no longer afford to buy the goods and services that businesses are selling, when people are slipping out of the middle class, it drags down the entire economy from top to bottom."

Except inequality isn't the cause of these problems, stagnating wages and unemployment are. But Obama wants to talk about inequality because it puts him on the convenient side of populist anger.

Sounding as if he's still running against George W. Bush, Obama laid the blame for our problems on the "most expensive tax cuts for the wealthy in history." Of course, he leaves out that those tax cuts also went to the middle class.

He also forgets his own favorite metric of jobs "created or saved." It's a bogus, unprovable gimmick, used to defend his failed stimulus, but who is he to say Bush's tax cuts didn't save millions of jobs after 9/11?

Obama describes the Bush years as a libertarian dystopia of "'you're on your own' economics," when we ignored vital spending on things like education and poverty programs. This is Obama's favorite straw man, and he's a kung fu master when it comes to defeating it.

He leaves out that Europe already has his preferred policies and is about to go under.

More significantly, Obama leaves out that under "compassionate conservatism," Bush was the first president to spend more than 3 percent of GDP on anti-poverty programs. Under Bush, federal spending on education grew 58 percent faster than inflation. Obama forgets that Bush fought for the biggest expansion of entitlements since the Great Society (Medicare Part D). He airbrushes away Sarbanes-Oxley, a new Cabinet agency, faith-based initiatives, etc.

"Some billionaires have a tax rate as low as 1 percent," Obama barked. "That is the height of unfairness." Except, when the Washington Post asked the White House for evidence to support the claim, an official confessed they "had no actual data to back up the president's assertion."

That's OK. Who cares about the facts when you're fighting to make America safe for cynicism again?


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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