The Battle Ahead

Things are getting pretty weird when even my home handyman starts complaining about a minor provision buried within the health care reform act. But that's exactly what happened last week. My levelheaded and normally apolitical handyman, a master of plumbing, electrical, and carpentry repairs, was fuming about a provision in the bill that would require him (and millions of other small businessmen) to record every little purchase of washers and bolts, sort them out by supplier, and submit a 1099 for all purchases totaling $600 from each and every supplier he deals with. The businesses that he frequents will have to do the same with each customer they deal with.

No wonder Phil is fuming. He already has to maintain a receipt book detailing his income and expenses so as to calculate his federal, state, and local taxes. Then he has to calculate and pay a self-employment payroll tax of 15.3%. He has to sit down each quarter and at the end of the year and figure out what he owes to various government entities, how much he can deduct for mileage and other costs, and what percentages he can depreciate, and then he ahs to write a check to half a dozen parasitical agencies of government that think they have a right to everything he earns. And he has to waste thirty or forty hours a year doing it. Now ObamaCare wants him to waste twice as much time on record-keeping and reporting. Not only that, but it wants to raise his taxes, and the taxes of other self-employed small businessmen, and force them to pay a penalty if they fail to purchase medical insurance.

Just to demonstrate their magnanimity, Democrats introduced a proposal that would exempt businesses with fewer than twenty-five workers and raise the amount subject to reporting to $5,000. This would let Phil off the hook but do nothing for hundreds of thousands of other small businesses, to say nothing of larger ones. For these businesses, the burden of paperwork would not be reduced, not even by raising the reportable minimum to $5,000. Every purchase would still have to be recorded and sorted out at year's end to determine if the 1099 threshold had been met. And for businesses with twenty-five workers, purchases from most regular suppliers would add up to $5,000.

It's not just Phil who is in a foul mood. Just about everyone in America can find something to object to in the health care bill, the financial reform bill, the cap and trade bill passed by the House, the two stimulus bills, or some other legislation. If not, Obama's many regulatory czars, most recently the unvetted Elizabeth Warren, have given us plenty to complain of. The only people in America who aren't upset with the Democrats, apparently, are the students at the University of Wisconsin, who gave President Obama a rousing welcome on September 28. But then those students, for the most part, aren't filing 1099s or paying taxes.

Public dissatisfaction will probably shift control of the House of Representatives to the GOP and put a half-dozen more Republicans in the Senate in 2011. But those changes are not going to repair the damage or put the country in a better mood right away. In fact, the fall election is setting the country up for the greatest ideological battle since 1981.

It is unlikely that Obama will prove very skillful at dealing with a conservative majority in the House and a strong conservative presence in the Senate. So far, whenever he is faced with opposition, Obama has resorted to personal attacks, whining over  "obstructionism," and charges of racism. But this time, the opposition will hold the power of the purse, and on every possible issue, the president and Congress will be at loggerheads. This is especially so on his remaining priorities: cap and trade, immigration reform, and tax reform. 

The president has already stated that one of his "top priorities" is "an energy policy that begins to address all facets of our over-reliance on fossil fuels." Maybe Obama does not realize it, but that is a very broad and provocative statement. An energy policy that addresses "all facets" of "over-reliance"? If Obama really thinks that America is over-reliant on fossil fuels, what does he expect to put in their place? More windmills? Or solar farms that operate one third of the time and are far more expensive than fossil fuels? What does he think is going to fuel our cars and trucks? Biofuel from switchgrass refineries that have not even been shown to be feasible? How are we going to heat our homes? Rubbing sticks together?

Energy policy is just one point of conflict. On every issue, newly elected conservatives will find little common ground with Obama and Reid. For those who think the fight ends on November 2, wait till November 12, when the lame-duck session of Congress starts up. And when the new session of Congress convenes in January, the battle really begins.

Ironically, Barack Obama now finds himself in the same position as Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan dictator with whom Obama exchanged hugs at the 2009 OAS meeting. At the end of September, Chávez lost his super-majority in the Venezuelan off-year election. He now faces a much harder time passing legislation and securing his own reelection in 2012. As a result of Chávez's mismanagement, nationalization of industry, and alienation of the business community, the Venezuelan economy is now a basket case: replete with shortages and widespread rationing of goods and services. Though Chávez will most likely resort to extralegal measures, and to violence, to retain his grip on the presidency, public opinion is clearly turning against him, just as it is turning against Obama in this country.

Perhaps Obama and Chávez, once their socialist policies have been reversed and they have been voted out in 2012, can obtain tenure together at the University of Wisconsin or some other such liberal institution. There they can live out their days, basking in the admiration of students and faculty alike. They can even write books about the socialist paradise that might have been, if only the public had been more reasonable and willing to accept destitution and slavery.

Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture and politics.
Things are getting pretty weird when even my home handyman starts complaining about a minor provision buried within the health care reform act. But that's exactly what happened last week. My levelheaded and normally apolitical handyman, a master of plumbing, electrical, and carpentry repairs, was fuming about a provision in the bill that would require him (and millions of other small businessmen) to record every little purchase of washers and bolts, sort them out by supplier, and submit a 1099 for all purchases totaling $600 from each and every supplier he deals with. The businesses that he frequents will have to do the same with each customer they deal with.

No wonder Phil is fuming. He already has to maintain a receipt book detailing his income and expenses so as to calculate his federal, state, and local taxes. Then he has to calculate and pay a self-employment payroll tax of 15.3%. He has to sit down each quarter and at the end of the year and figure out what he owes to various government entities, how much he can deduct for mileage and other costs, and what percentages he can depreciate, and then he ahs to write a check to half a dozen parasitical agencies of government that think they have a right to everything he earns. And he has to waste thirty or forty hours a year doing it. Now ObamaCare wants him to waste twice as much time on record-keeping and reporting. Not only that, but it wants to raise his taxes, and the taxes of other self-employed small businessmen, and force them to pay a penalty if they fail to purchase medical insurance.

Just to demonstrate their magnanimity, Democrats introduced a proposal that would exempt businesses with fewer than twenty-five workers and raise the amount subject to reporting to $5,000. This would let Phil off the hook but do nothing for hundreds of thousands of other small businesses, to say nothing of larger ones. For these businesses, the burden of paperwork would not be reduced, not even by raising the reportable minimum to $5,000. Every purchase would still have to be recorded and sorted out at year's end to determine if the 1099 threshold had been met. And for businesses with twenty-five workers, purchases from most regular suppliers would add up to $5,000.

It's not just Phil who is in a foul mood. Just about everyone in America can find something to object to in the health care bill, the financial reform bill, the cap and trade bill passed by the House, the two stimulus bills, or some other legislation. If not, Obama's many regulatory czars, most recently the unvetted Elizabeth Warren, have given us plenty to complain of. The only people in America who aren't upset with the Democrats, apparently, are the students at the University of Wisconsin, who gave President Obama a rousing welcome on September 28. But then those students, for the most part, aren't filing 1099s or paying taxes.

Public dissatisfaction will probably shift control of the House of Representatives to the GOP and put a half-dozen more Republicans in the Senate in 2011. But those changes are not going to repair the damage or put the country in a better mood right away. In fact, the fall election is setting the country up for the greatest ideological battle since 1981.

It is unlikely that Obama will prove very skillful at dealing with a conservative majority in the House and a strong conservative presence in the Senate. So far, whenever he is faced with opposition, Obama has resorted to personal attacks, whining over  "obstructionism," and charges of racism. But this time, the opposition will hold the power of the purse, and on every possible issue, the president and Congress will be at loggerheads. This is especially so on his remaining priorities: cap and trade, immigration reform, and tax reform. 

The president has already stated that one of his "top priorities" is "an energy policy that begins to address all facets of our over-reliance on fossil fuels." Maybe Obama does not realize it, but that is a very broad and provocative statement. An energy policy that addresses "all facets" of "over-reliance"? If Obama really thinks that America is over-reliant on fossil fuels, what does he expect to put in their place? More windmills? Or solar farms that operate one third of the time and are far more expensive than fossil fuels? What does he think is going to fuel our cars and trucks? Biofuel from switchgrass refineries that have not even been shown to be feasible? How are we going to heat our homes? Rubbing sticks together?

Energy policy is just one point of conflict. On every issue, newly elected conservatives will find little common ground with Obama and Reid. For those who think the fight ends on November 2, wait till November 12, when the lame-duck session of Congress starts up. And when the new session of Congress convenes in January, the battle really begins.

Ironically, Barack Obama now finds himself in the same position as Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan dictator with whom Obama exchanged hugs at the 2009 OAS meeting. At the end of September, Chávez lost his super-majority in the Venezuelan off-year election. He now faces a much harder time passing legislation and securing his own reelection in 2012. As a result of Chávez's mismanagement, nationalization of industry, and alienation of the business community, the Venezuelan economy is now a basket case: replete with shortages and widespread rationing of goods and services. Though Chávez will most likely resort to extralegal measures, and to violence, to retain his grip on the presidency, public opinion is clearly turning against him, just as it is turning against Obama in this country.

Perhaps Obama and Chávez, once their socialist policies have been reversed and they have been voted out in 2012, can obtain tenure together at the University of Wisconsin or some other such liberal institution. There they can live out their days, basking in the admiration of students and faculty alike. They can even write books about the socialist paradise that might have been, if only the public had been more reasonable and willing to accept destitution and slavery.

Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture and politics.

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