That old 1998 Obama clip, the one where he says, “I actually believe in redistribution,” was pushed into the spotlight by Romney friend and media ally Matt Drudge, then endlessly promoted by Romney friend and media ally Fox “News,” and then, of course, exploited by Romney and Ryan on the stump.
Romney said on Wednesday that what Obama is proposing is unlike anything Americans have seen:
He really believes in what I’ll call a government-centered society. I know there are some who believe that if you simply take from some and give to others, then we’ll all be better off. It’s known as redistribution. It’s never been a characteristic of America. … I believe the way to lift people and help people have higher incomes is not to take from some and give to others, but to create wealth for all of us.
Now, obviously Romney is wrong about America in this case (and in nearly every case). Income redistribution is theoretically present in our federal tax code, in which higher income folks are supposed to be required to pay at higher rates than the middle class and poor (this is not the place to argue why that mostly isn’t true, however).
And our system of entitlements, our hole-ridden safety net, is also an example of how we as a people—except for Tea Party extremists—have agreed that it is better for all of us if we means-test benefits like food stamps and health care—paid for by all taxpayers—and give them only to folks who need them.
But a larger point needs to be made—again and again—about the dishonesty of right-wingers, including right-wing media like Fox, whose “fair and balanced” brand is the butt of many jokes, but whose dishonesty is quite lucrative and thus quite resistant to criticism.
That dishonesty is manifest in the fact that today I finally saw on television—MSNBC, this morning, for instance—the entire context of Obama’s remark. And no surprise, far from sounding like a European socialist, Obama comes off sounding like a, well, like a moderate Republican of old, the kind teapartiers have hunted into extinction:
I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody’s got a shot. How do we pool resources at the same time as we decentralize delivery systems in ways that both foster competition, can work in the marketplace, and can foster innovation at the local level and can be tailored to particular communities.
“Marketplace”? “Innovation at the local level”? “Tailored to particular communities”? Wow! Obama may be one of the dumbest socialists who ever lived.