It’s how they describe their “soak the rich” populism (even as we’re watching such policies fail in Europe, in real time).
As Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged on Oct. 4, “We want to let that trillion dollar tax cut expire so the middle class doesn’t have to bear the burden of all that money going to the super wealthy. That’s not a tax raise, that’s called fairness where I come from.”
Likewise, here’s President Barack Obama, in his 2012 State of the Union address: “We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”
Let’s set aside for now the fact that “fairness” is an impossibly subjective word, invoked mostly by toddlers and teenagers who cry out against the unfairness of being denied a cookie or a smartphone. Let’s agree to a definition we can at least debate: that everyone should have the same chances in life, and has the same responsibility to “give back” — in fact, let’s accept Obama’s own definition for now.
Of course everyone should get a fair shot. The full force of government can and should be brought to bear in cases of discrimination.
That sense of the word “fairness” is why we have free, universal public education. And it’s why the Republican Party is focused on reforming it, not merely placating teacher unions.
The welfare reforms of 1996 certainly helped to link welfare benefits to work requirements, but sadly, those reforms have been chipped away in the subsequent years.
Still, the GOP is wrong to divide American into the “makers and the takers” (even when they do so in unguarded moments). Most of those “takers,” when the percentages are broken down, paid their taxes for many years, before they found themselves receiving government checks. Most Americans will find themselves in both categories, at different times in their lives. That’s how it’s supposed to be.
Finally, how about Obama’s claim that everyone should play by the same set of rules?
Yes! We support this enthusiastically. The problem is, the current administration (indeed, the current tax system) is the problem, not the solution.
For all of the Democrats railing against oil companies and insurance companies and their “high profits,” they give a pass to firms like Apple and GE, when it comes to playing by “the rules.”
The very best thing either the Obama administration or a Romney administration could do for this country and this economy is to establish some real rules, and see that they apply — to everyone.
Job creators are crying out for certainty, for clear and consistent signals from Washington. Then they can start making hiring decisions again.
That’s what will lead to real fairness is.