EDITORIAL: A state of class warfare

President ignores America’s heritage as a land of opportunity

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Whenever President Obama is in the same room as his teleprompter, expect to hear the class warrior emerge. Mr. Obama’s words Tuesday were no exception.

In its sneak peak at the president’s State of the Union remarks, the White House highlighted Mr. Obama’s intention to say we can “either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while more Americans barely get by. Or we can build a nation where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.”

America has always been a land of opportunity, and people did play by the same rules - until recently. There’s no better proof of this than the fact that 80 percent of America’s millionaires made it to the top on their own, not by inheriting their wealth. The middle class had thrived, with living standards on a steady rise up until 2009. In the last three years, the top 1 percent lost a lot more than the rest of us, but their being poorer doesn’t make anyone else better off.

The rules change when government starts bailing out private firms. Some companies get to fail, while government declares others “too important.” The administration also picked winners and losers by doling out billions in subsidies to favored industries and blocking opportunities for the disfavored. Despite being handed $535 million in public money, Solyndra went bankrupt.

That’s crony capitalism, not fairness. The president claims “millionaires and billionaires” should pay what he considers their “fair” share of taxes. Internal Revenue Service figures prove they already do. Those in the top 1 percent pay 36.7 percent of federal taxes, while earning 16.9 percent of adjusted gross income. Expand that out to the top 10 percent, and the well-off carry over 70 percent of the tax burden. As long as the president sticks to vague language about what’s “fair,” there’s no limit on how high the taxes might go.

The president also revived his theme of bringing manufacturing jobs back. Manufacturing output has actually grown 600 percent over the past 60 years, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. However, technological advances have delivered astonishing gains in productivity, which means fewer workers are needed in factories. What Mr. Obama really wants are more dues-paying members in labor unions that provide millions of dollars for Democratic campaigns.

Jobs and prosperity won’t grow as long as regulatory burdens stifle output, and our tax code is turned into an instrument to discourage and punish success. It’s time for America to discard Mr. Obama’s class-warfare message and reclaim our heritage as a land of opportunity.

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