- - Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Let’s get this out in the open.

President Obama’s agenda is to redistribute wealth, which enhances his own power. He can advance that agenda without Congress, instead acting exclusively through the executive branch. This is possible only because for decades Congress has given away power to bureaucrats.

President Reagan captured the essence of Mr. Obama’s agenda in a simple statement: “When you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always count on Paul’s vote.”

It’s a policy leads to collapse because, as Margaret Thatcher explained: “Eventually you run out of spending other people’s money.” But before the money runs out, Mr. Obama expects his team to be firmly entrenched in power.

The president simply follows the ancient script of bribing people to support his movement and to love him as their benefactor. This formula undercuts the moral fiber of a nation by encouraging people to support taking from others so they will have more for themselves.

After achieving power through giveaways, Mr. Obama follows another classic pattern of staying in power by silencing opponents, again using the back doors of bureaucracy. The IRS suppresses the tea party. The Federal Communications Commission controls the Internet by imposing “net neutrality.” The Federal Election Commission regulates debate on issues by labeling it “electioneering.” And national media are deep in puppy love for Mr. Obama instead of acting as watchdogs.

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Only in rare instances would actual force be needed against critics. Instead, foes are accused of being unwilling to follow the new laws; then the justice system becomes a weapon against them.

When everyday people seize things, we label it as theft, robbery, bribery, embezzlement or extortion. Using government instead to take those things does not make redistribution moral. It’s gangster government. But use of flowery political language eases us into accepting the seizures. After all, income inequality is the biggest problem of our times, right?

How is redistribution done through the bureaucracy?

Mr. Obama’s IRS is ready to send out “earned-income tax credit” checks to Americans-in-waiting (once known as illegal aliens) of $35,000 per family, once his Department of Homeland Security declares them legal and gives them work permits. His Consumer Financial Protection Board requires more loans to people with lousy credit, just like the bad mortgages that crashed our economy once before.

The president’s bureaucrats also control $640 billion given to state and local governments each year, to bribe them into supporting (or at least accepting) the Washington agenda.

Politically correct edicts are also used to rechannel our values. Mr. Obama’s first head of regulatory policy was Cass Sunstein, the Harvard professor whose book “Nudge” described how to use regulations to subtly influence the public in the directions chosen by politicians.

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Before he ran for president, Mr. Obama was more open about his agenda. For example, one old radio interview reveals his bemoaning that the Constitution is defective because it “says what the states can’t do to you [and] what the federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf.” He told listeners that this makes it harder “to bring about significant redistributional change.”

His redistribution is not merely about buying votes from the poor. He does not discriminate because he’s willing to buy votes at all income levels as the means to accumulate power. Making the middle class dependent on government for health care is one way. Expanding dependency on food stamps is another.

For the rich, there is crony capitalism, offering paydays such as green energy grants and Ex-Im Bank guarantees. That appeals to businesspeople who practice what Al Sharpton stands accused of doing: partnering with anybody who will pay him to abandon what he claims are his principles.

Mr. Obama wants to lock in his agenda so that it remains after he leaves office. He says he wants to make sure we still live under his edicts for another ten years.

When people depend on government, power flows to those who run the government. But sooner or later, Mr. Obama and friends will run out of other people’s money.

If government taxed and confiscated total wealth, the net worth of the combined Forbes 400 is only $2.3 trillion. Below those fortunate 400, however, net worth drops precipitously. We’re spending $3.5 trillion a year, so we would burn through the entire fortunes of the rich within just a few months, even without adding more spending like the president wants.

Margaret Thatcher was right: “Eventually you run out of spending other people’s money.”

Ernest Istook is a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma. Get his free email newsletter by signing up at eepurl.com/JPojD.

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