Sorry to break the bad news to Joe the Plumber. But the winner of Campaign 2008 is Peggy the Moocher. No matter who moves into the White House, Peggy has good reason to do a happy dance. The plain, ugly fact is that both major political parties are committed to spreading the wealth in one form or another. It's all just a question of how much and how quickly.
Who is Peggy the Moocher? She's Peggy Joseph, a voter in Sarasota, Fla., who exulted earlier this week at a Barack Obama rally that this was "the most memorable time of my life." Why? As she told a Florida reporter on a YouTube video that has been viewed by hundreds of thousands: "Because I never thought this day would ever happen. I won't have to worry about putting gas in my car. I won't have to worry about paying my mortgage. You know. If I help [Obama], he's gonna help me."
You can't blame Peggy the Moocher for viewing Obama as the superior Santa Claus. With a relentless messianic campaign, a grievance-mongering wife touting him as the country's soul fixer and a national infomercial promising to take care of every need from night classes to medical bills to rent and fuel-efficient cars, Obama effectively channeled Oprah Winfrey's Big Give.
"Everybody gets a car!" "Everybody gets a car!" And gas. And mortgage payment relief.
But the damning reality for fiscal conservatives is that John McCain's plan for homeowners underwater on their mortgages was even more generous than Obama's.
His $300 billion "rescue" involved directing the Treasury Secretary to "purchase mortgages directly from homeowners and mortgage servicers." That was on top of the trillion-plus-dollar "bank" bailout supported by both presidential candidates, the White House and the Democratic leadership; the $85-plus billion to AIG; the $25 billion to automakers; and the $200 billion in capital and credit lines to Fannie and Freddie. And who knows what else we'll be redistributing to the indebted states of New York, California, Massachusetts and all the other Peggy the Moochers, large and small, lining up for their piece of the bailout pie.
McCain assailed massive government spending -- while promising to heap on more massive government spending to pursue home ownership and retention at all costs. It was the Republican, not the Democrat, who entrusted the Treasury Department to renegotiate individual home loans and become chief principal write-down agents for the nation. Both private and public entities are planning for a McCain-esque homeowner salvation plan for borrowers in the red.
It's a swell idea for everyone who bought overpriced homes with Adjustable Rate Mortgages. Those who rented, bought within their means or locked into fixed-rate loans that they could afford are out of luck, naturally. The only sane thing to do in response? Stop paying your mortgage and get in line.
"E Pluribus Unum" is no longer our national motto. These three words are: "Do For Me." As in: What will the government do for me?
On Election Day, the federal government quietly reported that it will borrow a record $550 billion in the current quarter to fund the bipartisan bailout. The Treasury Department plans to borrow more than a half-trillion dollars in the current October-December quarter and another $368 billion in the first three months of next year.
Estimated total for the whole year: $1.4 trillion. Democrats plan to add another $500 billion in "stimulus"-palooza legislation. Credit card companies, utilities, insurance companies, and car loan and student loan debtors await their turn.
The bailout bonanza blurred the differences between the two major political parties, but the Peggy the Moocher video shows there are still basically two starkly contrasting views of government in this country among the rank-and-file electorate. Unlike Joe the Plumber, Peggy sees government as her salvation and the president as her subsidizer-in-chief. She voted with the expectation that the Spreader of Wealth will reward her with payback. Joe just wants Washington to leave him alone to fend for himself.