Obama's Windmill-Based War on Poverty

Do we all get free wooden shoes? Barack Obama didn't say. But he does have an Impossible Dream to cut poverty that would make Don Quixote proud. Put people to work . . . building windmills. His idea came in response to a question at last night's Compassion Forum on CNN from Jim Wallis, a leading member of the religious left whose focus is "social justice." Wallis wanted Obama to commit to a new War on Poverty.

View video here.

JIM WALLIS: As you reminded us a week or two ago, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed 40 years ago, he wasn't just speaking about civil rights. He was fighting for economic justice. Was about to launch a poor people's campaign. Yet, four decades after the anniversary of his death, the poverty rate in America is virtually unchanged and 1 in 6 of our children are poor in the richest nation in the world. So in the faith community, we are wanting a new commitment around a measurable goal, something like cutting poverty in half in ten years. Would you commit -- would you at this historic compassion forum, commit to such a goal tonight and if elected, tell us how you would mobilize the nation, mobilize us to achieve that goal?
Surely, you'd think, the candidate wouldn't fall into that big-government trap. Think again . . .
BARACK OBAMA: Well, first of all, Jim, I appreciate the good work you've been doing on these issues. And I absolutely will make that commitment. Understand -- understand -- understand that when I make that commitment, I do so with great humility because it is a very ambitious goal. And we're going to have to mobilize our society, not just to cut poverty, but to prevent more people from slipping into poverty. You know, this actually goes back to the earlier point you raised where Senator Clinton suggested I was being elitist when I said that people are frustrated and bitter. That is absolutely true. That's not just true in small towns. That's true in urban areas. That's true in my community of the south side of Chicago. Because people feel forgotten. They feel as if nobody is listening in Washington. And that every four years we have politicians who come out and make promises and they're not kept. And so that's why I wanted to put the caveat on there. I make that commitment with humility because we've got a lot of work to do economically in this country to bring about a more just and fair economy. It starts with, I think, recognizing that wages and incomes for average families have gone down during the most recent economic expansion. That's never happened before in the history of America since we started recording these statistics. At least since World War II.

And so we've got to shore up the mortgage market. To make sure that we don't have millions of people who are losing their homes. We're going to have to, I think, change our tax code. For us to provide tax breaks to the wealthiest among us, those who didn't need them and weren't asking for them. Folks that are struggling to fill up their gas tanks just to get to a job. I met a guy here in Pennsylvania when Bob Casey and I were traveling around, who told me his problem is he's looking for a job and it costs him more than he can afford just to go to a job interview.

And so we've got to give them some tax relief, and we've got to invest in our infrastructure to create jobs, particularly those who are going to be getting laid off in the construction industry, as the housing market goes down. And I put forward very specific plans for that. We're going to have to, I think, invest heavily in clean energy. And if we have a cap and trade system, we can generate $150 billion over ten years to invest in solar and wind and biodiesel and train people to build windmills and build solar panels and make buildings more energy efficient. And make alternative fuels. All these things -- all these things will strengthen the economy generally.

And I left out one last point. Health care. People are falling into bankruptcy. They are going without medical care. It is a moral imperative that we make sure that we have a plan in place that provides health care to every single American and that has high quality and provides prevention. If we do those things and that applies not just to poor people but working and middle class families all over the country, then we also have to focus on those who even when the economy is good and the middle class are doing well are still impoverished, and that's a special challenge. And that involves, I think, going at the problem at its roots very early. Investing in early-childhood education, working with at-risk parents, drastically improving our education system, K through 12 by paying our teachers more and demanding more from them. And making sure that we have after-school programs and summerschool programs.

Let's review. Obama appreciates and identifies with the work being done by Jim Wallis, an advocate of "social justice," lefty code for aggressively redistributionist economics. Note how Wallis implores Obama, as president, to "mobilize us." This is anything but the philosophy of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is the expressed desire to have a powerful leader "mobilize" us for our own good. Wallis is looking for a man on a socialist white horse.

And be very afraid when a lefty like Obama talks about his plan to "mobilize society" and says "we've got a lot of work to do economically in this country to bring about a more just and fair economy." That's classic far-left language. The "we" he has in mind is of course big government, using its power to control the economy and redistribute income.

Then there's the doubly-destructive whammy on jobs he proposes. First, he calls for government imposition of a "cap and trade" system. It's not just emissions that would be capped: so would economic activity. It's a formula for job destruction. Next, he would take the $150 billion raked in through cap and trade, and direct its investment in industries of his choosing: from whence those legions of windmill and solar panel makers.

He thus establishes a command and control model in which those infamous Washington bureaucrats, rather than free markets, determine the favored industries to which capital will be directed. This is yet another formula for massive job destruction.

In sum, Obama embraces the social justice segment of the religious left, and commits to a new War on Poverty whose nostrums would be certain to destroy employment for the very people he claims to want to help.

Will the MSM take note of just how far left Obama has planted his economic flag? Willl they speak of him literally tilting at windmills in pursuit of his Impossible Dream? Don't count on it.

Note also Obama's reference to tax breaks for wealthy people "who didn't need them." Hmm, so Obama wants to take from people according to their abilities, and give to others according to their needs. Now where have I heard that before?

Windmill workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your socialism. Well, and perhaps that pair of "free" wooden shoes.

Aside: For some odd reason, CNN entitled its article on the forum "Clinton, Obama put politics aside to discuss faith." Put politics aside? Surely CNN jests.

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.