I do not believe that President Obama is an anti-Semite, but any strategy that connects a tiny1% portion of the population with exploitative banking and financial practices as well as Wall Street excesses and greed is susceptible to taking on anti-Jewish undertones during a period of grim economic conditions. As evidenced by Jewish history, populist resentment, easily stoked, is less easily controlled. American Jews not only should not support such president, but must also speak out against such demagoguery and scapegoating.
The Jews in America constitute around 2% of the population and are much more successful economically and educationally than other ethnic, racial and religious groups in the US. Some 46% of Jews earn more than $100,000 per year, and approximately 34% of the Forbes’ top richest 400 American citizens are Jewish, including 20 of the wealthiest 50. A strategy of envy is not good for Jews and scapegoating any group of people for their hard work and success is wrong and inconsistent with the American dream or with Jewish values.
As Obama cannot run on his record of high unemployment, stagnant economic growth and the worsening deficit, he has decided in his recent speeches to accuse and indict the rich and their Republican protectors for allegedly wrecking America’s economy by portraying himself as the protector and rescuer of the working and middle class. In his 2013 budget plan he proposed increasing taxes for the billionaires and millionaires, oddly including families making over $250,000, while allocating billions in new stimulus spending. Moreover, he portrays himself as an average American, saying “we don’t envy the wealthy, but we do expect everybody to do their fair share and everyone to get a fair shot.”
Obama the hypocrite
First, such strategy is hypocritical, as Obama, his cabinet and advisors are among those “villainous” millionaires. The president’s net worth in 2010 was $7.3 million while Hillary Clinton’s was $ 31 million and his recent two chiefs’ of staff was $28.7 and $11.4 million. Moreover, while publicly denouncing Wall Street financial houses, hundreds of Obama’s big money fundraisers for his reelection team have ties to investment banks and other financial institutions such as Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, which were given millions in bailout money.
Second, such strategy is false and logically dishonest. The top 1% of earners pay about 40% of the nation’s federal income taxes, nearly double the share they paid in 1980, while the bottom 47% of Americans do not pay any federal income taxes. Hiking the tax on the rich will not help the poor and the middle class. Redistributing the wealth to the poor, whose number and percentage under Obama has risen to the highest level since 1993, will not create new jobs.
The rich will still be rich and keep their wealth by firing employees, closing businesses and avoiding investment in job-creating businesses. In addition, tax hikes will have little effect on the deficit. Obama’s most coveted tax hike would have reduced the 2010 deficit from 1.29 trillion to 1.21 trillion. Cutting spending and ineffective stimulus programs and shrinking the waste in many of the entitlement and government programs will save the US from following the fate of the bankrupt socialist European economies.
Third, a major Jewish value is charitable giving. Obama’s plan of higher marginal tax rates and reducing the rate wealthy taxpayers can deduct for their charitable giving would reduce donations and badly impact many Jewish and other philanthropic institutions at this time when requests from individuals and families have soared.
Hence, American Jews should wake up and realize that supporting President Obama is not only bad for Israel, but also does not serve their own self-interest.
Shoula Romano Horing was born and raised in Israel. She is an attorney in Kansas City and a national speaker. Her blog: www.shoularomanohoring.com