In his latest campaign ad, President Barack Obama argues for a "new economic patriotism" and plugs his plan to help the American economy recover. In the ad, Obama speaks directly into the camera and reminds viewers that the choice they have in November is between two distinct visions for the country.
On the one hand, there's Mitt Romney -- a candidate who the president says "believes that with even bigger tax cuts for the wealthy, and fewer regulations on Wall Street, all of us will prosper." In other words, Obama adds, "he'd double down on the same trickle down policies that led to the crisis in the first place."
On the other hand, the president says he would create millions of jobs, decrease our dependence on foreign energy sources and improve America's education system. He makes this plea by calling for a "new economic patriotism, rooted in the belief that growing our economy begins with a strong, thriving middle class."
So what is "economic patriotism"? I'm curious, especially because this isn't the first time Obama has tied pride in one's country to fiscal policy. During his 2008 campaign, then-Sen. Obama labeled President George W. Bush as "unpatriotic" for adding $4 trillion to the national debt:
It's true -- No. 43 added $4 trillion to the debt in 8 years. Meanwhile, No. 44 has added nearly $5 trillion in just 3.5 years. Knowing this, how does Obama now define "patriotic" governance? Is it now considered "patriotic" to be fiscally irresponsible?
If we forget for a moment Obama's previous definition of "unpatriotic" fiscal policy, how would he define "economic patriotism" today?
The top return in a Google search for "economic patriotism" is a Wikipedia entry for "economic nationalism":
[A] body of policies that emphasize domestic control of the economy, labor, and capital formation, even if this requires the imposition of tariffs and other restrictions on the movement of labor, goods and capital.
Named as a central tenet of "economic nationalism," the Wiki entry defines "economic patriotism" as:
[T]he coordinated and promoted behaviour of consumers or companies (both private and public) that consists of favoring the goods or services produced in their country or in their group of countries. Economic patriotism can be practiced either through demand stimulation (encouraging consumers to purchase the goods and services of their own country) or through supply protection, the shielding of the domestic market from foreign competition through tariffs or quotas (protectionism).
This definition makes sense in the domestic marketplace when you consider Obama's politics. Take, for instance, his energy plan which seeks to coordinate and promote renewable energy by favoring solar/wind energy (supply protection) and purposely limiting oil production (protectionism). Obama has adopted the idea of economic "patriotism" (read: nationalism) to play favorites with select industries which fall in line with his vision for the country.
How has this game of picking winners and losers in the economy worked out for you, America?
(For more details on how President Obama will follow through with his promise to create "1 million new manufacturing jobs," please see Solyndra. For details on how Mitt Romney plans to create jobs, please see Staples.)
Obama promises to build a strong middle class, but actual job creation seems more like an unintended consequence of putting the federal government in control of the economy, labor and capital formation. And while he insists that the "trickle down" policies of the free market have failed us, history shows that it's the free market -- not government -- that provides the greatest standard of living for all class levels, especially the middle class.
Bottom line: Such interventionist government policies that harm businesses, business creators and/or investors will not help the people they employ.
President Obama has also suggested that paying higher taxes is a "patriotic" act.
“Instead of the middle class paying more, we should ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more, a modest amount, so that we can reduce our deficit and still make investments in things like education that help our economy grow,” he said last month. “You know, here's the thing -- there are a lot of well-to-do Americans, patriotic Americans, who understand this and are willing to do the right thing.”
First of all, if this were true, Mitt Romney would be exponentially more patriotic than Barack Obama after over-paying his taxes last year and 49% of Americans who pay zero federal income taxes would technically be classified as unpatriotic.
But if patriotism is a love for one's country and showing that love is helping others, then higher taxes is precisely the opposite of what Americans should do. Numerous studies show that private charities are much more efficient and effective than government programs, particularly for causes the Obama administration claims to care about -- like fighting hunger & homelessness. Wouldn't the patriotic thing this case be not relying on the government to provide such services? And how on earth is is "patriotic" to support policies and a candidate which have steered the country in a direction worse than four years ago?
Finally, President Obama encourages voters to read his plan, which is fine but not really necessary. Voters have the "benefit" of having lived through three years of these policies in action. The result? Higher unemployment, more debt, increased deficits, devalued currency, higher insurance costs, higher gas prices, more taxes, stagnant education, so on and so on.
With no end in sight, it's time to change direction.