Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 27, 2008

THE WEALTH SPREADERS.... Without a hint of irony, Sarah Palin has begun calling Barack Obama "Barack the Wealth Spreader." I'm not sure if typical voters, who've seen their real wages decline, and who haven't benefitted at all from a series of Republican tax cuts, will necessarily be outraged by the idea of a president offering more economic opportunities to those who've been left behind, but whatever. I'm not the McCain/Palin campaign's message consultant.

But more importantly, as Ryan Powers noted, there's the irony of Palin making these ridiculous attacks.

Just last month, in an interview with Philip Gourevitch of the New Yorker, Palin explained the windfall profits tax that she imposed on the oil industry in Alaska as a mechanism for ensuring that Alaskans "share in the wealth" generated by oil companies. [...]

In fact, Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share (ACES) program, which manages the redistribution of oil wealth in Alaska, brings in so much money that the state needs no income or sales tax. In addition, this year ACES will provide every Alaskan with a check for an estimated $3,200.

As Hendrick Hertzberg notes, "Perhaps there is some meaningful distinction between spreading the wealth and sharing it ... but finding it would require the analytic skills of Karl the Marxist."

I realize that even McCain, Palin, and Fox News don't take this "socialism" nonsense seriously, and that this is just rhetoric borne of desperation. McCain has always struggled with new ideas and a changing world, so it stands to reason he'd rely on a red scare as his closing argument.

But the truth is, Sarah Palin's Alaska is about as close to socialism as America gets. As Yglesias recently noted, "You have collective ownership of valuable natural resources that generates lots of revenue for the state, and then the government makes 'spreading the wealth around' through the Permanent Fund, etc. its main priority."

The point isn't that there's anything especially wrong with Palin-style socialism; there isn't. The point is, if McCain and Palin want to whine incessantly about socialism, redistribution of wealth, and "welfare," they ought to a) learn what they're talking about; and b) take a good look in the mirror.

Steve Benen 3:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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Republicans are having fits that news orgs like the New York Times don't report on Obama's associations (everyday), exposing that this is only a fear tactic.

Why don't news orgs ever push back. Why are AIP and Witchcraft, Liddy and others off limits, especially when the McCain/Palin camp went 24/7 Ayers?

It seems as though the times could reprint the Ayers, Resko stuff and expose the republicans in the process - it'd only be fair.

So, here we are. Obama has never enacted Socialism and Palin has, yet nothing in the MSM. At least calling her out on her hypocrisy.

The fact that these are the last arguments of a dying campaign shouldn't excuse the lack of journalistic prudence.

Posted by: ThatGuy on October 27, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Who, in god's name, is Sarah Palin talking to? And who, in god's name, thinks that telling a bunch of non-wealthy people who are fearful about the economy, that we need to protect the rich people of America?

Do these people think they're going to win the lottery and suddenly benefit from a Palin/McCain White House?

I think Obama could easily fight back [as if he needed to] by saying Palin/McCain will bring Feudalism to America in the next four years.

Posted by: chrenson on October 27, 2008 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, but it's not just Alaska. When the Dems pushed through an off shore drilling bill in September (Politico), the Republicans screamed bloody murder specifically because it barred revenue sharing for the states nearest the rigs.

OT Hoorah!! Ted Stevens guilty on all seven counts. Stick a fork in the bastard.

Posted by: Danp on October 27, 2008 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

I wish someone in the press would ask the idiots in the McCain campaign if they even know the difference between 'communism' and 'socialism'. Of course, that would require finding someone in the press who's not an idiot too.

Here's the bottom line -- for decades, Republicans have been promising that if we cut the taxes of the wealthy, then prosperity would trickle down to everyone else. But we're still waiting down here to get trickled on. Since "supply-side" economics hasn't worked, it's time to try something else to make the promises made by the Republicans come true.

Posted by: SteveT on October 27, 2008 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

I wish someone in the press would ask the idiots in the McCain campaign if they even know the difference between 'communism' and 'socialism'. Of course, that would require finding someone in the press who's not an idiot too.

Here's the bottom line -- for decades, Republicans have been promising that if we cut the taxes of the wealthy, then prosperity would trickle down to everyone else. But we're still waiting down here to get trickled on. Since "supply-side" economics hasn't worked, it's time to try something else to make the promises made by the Republicans come true.

Posted by: SteveT on October 27, 2008 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

This is excellent news for McCain!

Posted by: W Action on October 27, 2008 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

OT Hoorah!! Ted Stevens guilty on all seven counts. Stick a fork in the bastard. -- Danp, @ 16:02

No kidding???!!! When I heard they had to let one of the jurors go, take an alternate as replacement and start deliberating all over again, I figured they'd never be "done" in time for the Election Day. That's excellent news -- for us (Senate-wise) and for Alaska.

Although, of course, I *have* heard of people running for office from jail, so maybe that's the route Stevens will take too.

Posted by: exlibra on October 27, 2008 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Ted Stevens guilty on all seven counts.

Yes, but is Palin still planning on voting for him?

Posted by: ckelly on October 27, 2008 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Heard Tony Blankly go apeshit about the left's claim that the socialist tag was just racial coding. His reaction said alot. "If Obama is president will we be able to criticize him without being called racist?"

Well if your criticisms are racist then yes you will be called racist. It's simple logic Mr. Blankly.

That's why they can get away with it and not have the light shined on them. It's a racial code word that people except.

Posted by: grinning cat on October 27, 2008 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

On topic...
Without a hint of irony, Sarah Palin has begun calling Barack Obama "Barack the Wealth Spreader." -- Steve Benen

I guess the hunter-gatherers like Palin' are just pig-ignorant about cultivating a garden. A "spreader" is a necessary tool because, as you shall spread, so will your garden grow. Even Pangloss -- as selfish a person as ever Palin/Macacain had been -- knew that much...

Posted by: exlibra on October 27, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, while I appreciate your faith in human nature, you give way too much credit to the unwashed American electorate. Sure, anybody who thinks about the 'socialist spreading the wealth' argument will realize in a second it is a hypocritical non-starter. But from my experiences in this neo-battleground Hoosier state, I see plenty of potential voters who have taken this to mean that THEIR "wealth" will be spread around, presumably to some underserving portion of the fake America. "Sure he's articulate for a black man," was the conversation I overheard in a Kroger the other day between two reasonably well dressed, middle aged gentlemen, "and I suppose he's smart and all. But I don't need my money spread around any more than it already is!"

Posted by: Mikey on October 27, 2008 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

The very best line of the Vice Presidential debate was Joe Biden complementing "Socialist Seccessionist" Sarah Palin for imposing a "windfall profit tax" on the Oil Companies. The stricken look on her face was priceless.

Posted by: Lance on October 27, 2008 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

I wish the MSN would spend a little more time trying to understand/explain Alaska's unique state budget. Every time I hear Palin talk about 'giving back to Alaskan taxpayers' I always stop and ask "What Alaskan taxpayers?"

There is no state income tax, no statewide sales tax. The only statewide tax is a modest gas tax that is low by national standards.

Essentially Alaska is like the countries of the middle east. Its citizens live off the largese of the oil industry. Much of the work on the North Slope is done by seasonal workers, many of whom are not resisdents (ditto the oil fields of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Dubai etc etc). I don't know if this is still true, but for the years I lived in Alaska the largest single employer (by a wide margin) was state goverment. The largest after that was a grocery store chain (since bought out by Safeway).

Palin's big claim to fame is imposing a windfall tax on oil profits, dividing the procedes up evenly and sending all Alaska residents a check. Someone please explain to me how that is any different from Democrats in the US congress calling for a similar tax on oil company profits?

Posted by: thorin-1 on October 27, 2008 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK


Palin was spreading the state's oil wealth.

Obama is talking about spreading other people's wealth.

The difference is so great and so obvious that even a Leftist blogger can identify and understand it, so your pretence to not do so has to be due to deceit.

Posted by: a on October 27, 2008 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Palinhood:

A distortion of reality. Stretching a non-truth so that it is heard as truth.

Palin isn't concerned with the truth, she wouldn't know it if she saw it.

Her world view is filtered through the lens of godspeak, and it isn't particularly pretty.

For a woman who has called Eskimos "Ice Arabs" how in the heck do ya think she knows what socialism is?

That stuff 'bout oil money in Alaska ain't socialism it's oilism. Next question.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on October 27, 2008 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

"...the state needs no income or sales tax...this year ACES will provide every Alaskan with a check for an estimated $3200."
This could explain the woeful lack of knowledge some Alaskans seem to have about what government is for and why we have one.
Oh, and does that $3200 go to adults only, or does the head of a household get a check for each child?

Posted by: Doug on October 27, 2008 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

>I realize that even McCain, Palin, and Fox News don't take this "socialism" nonsense seriously

Actually I think Pickpocket Palin actually believes what comes out of her mouth. She is that stupid.

>the state's oil wealth.

Oh. My. God.

The state's... the STATE'S oil wealth?

WTF happened to property rights? Man "a" you really surprised me, your mask slipped and it wasn't Teh French under there, it was Karl Marx himself! You actually believe that the oil belongs to "The State"!!! Joe Stalin luvs ya, baby.

Wow.

Posted by: doesn't matter on October 27, 2008 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

This "spread the wealth" nonsense might work... if people HAD ANY FUKCING WEALTH TO SPREAD.

I'm about as worried about what happens to my "wealth" as about what happens to my Papacy.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on October 27, 2008 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Hey "a". In case "doesn't matter" didn't make it clear enough, the "State's" oil wealth comes from private oil companies paying licensing and royalty fees to Alaska for the priveledge of doing business there. That takes away from the company's bottom line - money that they could add to their exec - or maybe even pipeline workers! - salaries.
Obama is not redistributing wealth. He's attempting to fix the unequitable tax cuts enacted by the repubs that "redistributed" tax savings almost exclusivly to high income (not even "wage") earners, and not to the rest of "real" Americans.

Posted by: liberal republican (now dem) on October 27, 2008 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

The McCain campaign is all about slogans, not mental acumen.
They are fizzling before our eyes. Beseiged.
Bitter and ruined. Unseemly. Discredited. Unsustainable. Uncomfortable to watch.
Stunningly inept. They offer nothing for the vulnerable, yet more for the millionaire.
The mean-spiritedness of the campaign reveals their governing style.
As Paul Krugman once observed, top-down class warfare in action.

Their fall is quite Nixonesque...

Posted by: consider wisely always on October 27, 2008 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

Palin told everyone she told the federal government "Thanks, but no thanks." for the Bridge to Nowhere.

Why didn't she tell the oil companies "Thanks but no thanks for your insidious creeping Communist plan to destroy America"?

She might've added some levity by saying, "Thanks, but as long as I have this Bridge to Nowhere I don't need your corrupting corporate money."

Alas, Sarah of the North just took the money, any way she could. I suppose that's another thing John McCain saw in her that reminded him of himself.

Posted by: MarkH on October 27, 2008 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

Palin was spreading the state's oil wealth.

So the revenue generated by the oil companies does not belong to them, but belongs to the state of Alaska?

Obama is talking about spreading other people's wealth.

Hey, you're the one saying it's okay for the government to confiscate corporate profits and redistribute them to citizens. So do all corporate profits belong to the government, or only states that have governors whose politics you approve of?

Posted by: Mnemosyne on October 27, 2008 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

"Palin was spreading the state's oil wealth."

I wasn't aware that Alaska spontaneously produced oil without the benefit of human intervention. Honestly, if you're going to make an argument that stupid, at least misspell a word or two. Otherwise, I'll assume you *have* been educated but that it obviously didn't take. That means someone's tax dollars were wasted on you, and that makes the Baby Jesus cry.

Posted by: jjcomet on October 27, 2008 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

Another trouble is, having a cap gains rate lower than for earned income spreads wealth in effect from wage earners to CG traders, who don't even do useful work after the original capitalization.

Posted by: Neil B on October 27, 2008 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK
Palin was spreading the state's oil wealth.

Which is socialism. BY DEFINITION.

Y'all think we're morons here?

Posted by: gwangung on October 27, 2008 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's great that Palin is calling Sen. Barack Obama "The Wealth Spreader,"...

...as long as we can start calling John McCain and Sarah Palin (and everyone at Faux News) "The Bullsh*t Spreaders." Ewwwww, something stinks.

Posted by: The Oracle on October 27, 2008 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

Doug: "Oh, and does that $3200 go to adults only, or does the head of a household get a check for each child?"

The payouts go to everyone who resided in Alaska for one year, including one-year-old babies. The reason why this is different from "spreading the wealth" is that the rich get the same amount, too.

There's a better example of Sarah Palin, Socialist. See, the state of Alaska used to own a dairy (i.e. means of production). The dairy was losing money. A state board recommended it be shut down. Palin disagreed and sacked the board. She installed some of her cow-loving friends on a new board. They kept the dairy open for a few more money-losing months, then they shut it down anyway.

Posted by: Grumpy on October 27, 2008 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

I've long concluded that treating statistics and facts only in a way to suit your own argument, picking quotations out of context or editing to distort, and holding close to an ideology that has no basis in reality is the perfect inoculation to irony.

Republicans, or atleast the repugnuts, don't know irony when it comes from their own mouths and slaps them on the back of their head.

They've either always been or made themselves into morons.

Posted by: notthere on October 28, 2008 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

Grumpy, excellent point, and as you know, the dairy in question (Matanuska Maid, the only alternative to powdered milk or the even more dreaded "recombined milk" when I was a youth in Alaska) was in Palin's back yard in the Mat-Su Valley. My guess is if the dairy were anywhere else in the State her reaction would have been "no socialism!"

But the fact that Palin's confiscatory tax on oil extraction is distributed to rich and poor alike (although how many rich folk have as many kids as poor folk) doesn't make it any less "socialist." By almost any measure, even the richest Alaskan family is poorer than an oil company, so the whole scheme, by her own standards, is socialist if not Marxist in the truest sense (ownership of the means of production).

Posted by: kk in seattle on October 28, 2008 at 4:24 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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