04/21/2017

Apocalyptic Progressivism

Victor Davis Hanson, National Review

Instead of overcoming challenges, progressive politicians exploit them to expand government.

Shortly after the 2008 election, President Obama’s soon-to-be chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, infamously declared, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.”

He elaborated: “What I mean by that [is] it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

Disasters, such as the September 2008 financial crisis, were thus seen as opportunities. Out of the chaos, a shell-shocked public might at last be ready to accept more state regulation of the economy and far greater deficit spending. Indeed, the national debt doubled in the eight years following the 2008 crisis.

During the 2008 campaign, gas prices at one point averaged over $4 a gallon. Then-candidate Obama reacted by pushing a green agenda — as if the cash-strapped but skeptical public could be pushed into alternative-energy agendas.

Obama mocked then-Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s prescient advice to “drill, baby, drill” — as if Palin’s endorsement of new technologies such as fracking and horizontal drilling could never ensure consumers plentiful fuel.

Instead, in September 2008, Steven Chu, who would go on to become Obama’s secretary of energy, told the Wall Street Journal that “somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”

In other words, if gas prices were to reach $9 or $10 a gallon, angry Americans would at last be forced to seek alternatives to their gas-powered cars, such as taking the bus or using even higher-priced alternative fuels.

When up for reelection in 2012, President Obama doubled down on his belief that gas was destined to get costlier: “And you know we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices.”

Yet even as Obama spoke, U.S. frackers were upping the supply and reducing the cost of gas — despite efforts by the Obama administration to deny new oil-drilling permits on federal lands.

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Thanks to "bracket creep," the inflation of the 1970s pushed millions of taxpayers into higher tax brackets even though their inflation-adjusted incomes were not rising. To help offset this tax increase and also to improve incentives to work, save, and invest, President Reagan proposed sweeping tax rate reductions during the 1980s. What happened? Total tax revenues climbed by 99.4 percent during the 1980s, and the results are even more impressive when looking at what happened to personal income tax revenues. Once the economy received an unambiguous tax cut in January 1983, income tax revenues climbed dramatically, increasing by more than 54 percent by 1989 (28 percent after adjusting for inflation).

 

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