Old Wives' Tales
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Claim: During an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Barack Obama said, "a strong government hand is needed to assure that wealth is distributed more equitably."
Example: [Collected via e-mail, July 2008]
Origins: This item comes from a 17 June 2008 Wall Street Journal article about Senator Barack Obama's economic plans for the U.S., some of which was based on an interview Senator Obama gave to that publication.
Although the highlighted phrase ("a strong government hand is needed to assure that wealth is distributed more equitably") does appear in that article, it is not, as claimed above, a direct quote from Senator Obama. As the lack of quotation marks around those words in the passage below indicates, the phrase is the reporters' summary/interpretation of Obama's position, not his own words (the direct quotation portion of the sentence having ended with the word "workers"):
Sen. Obama cited new economic forces to explain what appears like a return to an older-style big-government Democratic platform skeptical of market forces. "Globalization and technology and automation all weaken the position of workers," he said, and a strong government hand is needed to assure that wealth is distributed more equitably.(The phrase "a strong government hand is needed to assure that wealth is distributed more equitably" also does not appear in the Wall Street Journal's transcript of Senator Obama's interview.)
As for whether the phrase in question is a fair summary of Senator Obama's economic philosophy (whether or not he actually uttered those words), here is what he said during the portions of the interview apparently summarized by that phrase:
I do believe the tax policies over the last eight years have been badly skewed towards the winners of the global economy. And I do think there is a function for tax policy in making sure that everybody benefits from globalization or at least the benefits and burdens are shared a little more easily. If, as some talk about, we'veLast updated: 17 August 2008
If we've got investments in education, that will make us more competitive in the long run. We've got to pay for that like anything else. But it would be a mistake to say I view our tax code only as a distribution question. I also think that our tax code has come to distort a lot of economic decision making so I'd like to see simplification as part of an overall tax agenda. On the corporate side, for example, one of the things I've asked my folks to look at is: Are there ways we can close existing loopholes in tax havens at the same time as we're lowering overall rates? We've got this new problem: The biggest problem with our tax code when it comes to the business side is that we have one of the highest tax rates — corporate tax rates — on paper but our effective tax rate is one of the
I say that the combination of globalization and technology and automation all weaken the position of workers. I would add an anti-union climate to that list. But all weakens the position of workers, particularly blue-collar workers, in the economy, and some of it is just historical. You know after World
We have drastically increased productivity since 1995, and there was the theory that if you increase productivity enough some of these problems of living standards would solve themselves. But what we've seen is rising productivity, rising corporate profits but flat-lining or even declining wages and incomes for the average family.
What that says is that it's going to be important for us to pay attention to not only growing the pie, which is always critical, but also some attention to how it is sliced. I do not believe that those two things
You get to a point, I think, if you have a participatory income tax, for example, where you might be discouraging work because marginal rates are so high. You might undoubtedly get to a point where the capital gain and dividend taxes are so high that they distort investment decisions and you're weaker economically. But you know if you've got a sensible policy that says, we're going to capture some of the nation's economic
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