Barack Obama is determined to engage in the sort of redistribution of wealth that
has long been the hallmark of the radical Left. As the senator from
Illinois famously told an Everyman questioner named Sam Wurzelbacher -
who will forever be known as "Joe the Plumber": "I think that when you
spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
The days following the third Obama-McCain debate have been filled
with invective, much of it aimed at obscuring the extent to which Mr.
Obama actually embraces a redistributionist agenda. Democratic
partisans have emphasized their man's proposal to give tax cuts for 95
percent, insisting that only the rich earning more than $250,000 would
be soaked. Republicans have retorted that 40 percent of Americans pay
no taxes, so they would actually be getting tax credits - significantly
increasing the wealth dispersed at the government's discretion. Along
the way, Joe the Plumber became political road-kill, his professional,
political and tax status the object of withering scrutiny and
As it happens, Mr. Obama has exhibited a commitment to "spreading
the wealth around" that extends far beyond his ominously socialistic
Robin Hood agenda for this country. Late last year, he introduced the
Global Poverty Act (S.2433).
The stated purposes of this legislation purport to be as modest as
they are seemingly laudable. Who can object to the goal of dramatically
reducing hunger and privation that afflicts hundreds of millions around
the world? And who could find fault with congressional direction that
the president come up with a strategy to advance this goal?
Unfortunately, the apparently innocuous language of S.2433 belies a
larger and troubling purpose, one that augurs ill for those of us who
still think of ourselves as American citizens - rather than as, in Mr.
Obama's words, "citizens of the world." It would explicitly make it the
policy of the United States "to promote the reduction of global poverty, the elimination of extreme
global poverty, and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal
of reducing by one-half the proportion of people, between 1990 and
2015, who live on less than $1 per day."
The operative phrase in this problematic policy directive is "the
achievement of the Millennium Development Goal." In fact, the bill
would require that the mandated presidential strategy coordinate "the
goal of poverty reduction with the other internationally recognized
Millennium Development Goals." (Emphasis added.)
The Obama bill makes clear, in turn, that the latter are the
objectives laid out by the United Nations General Assembly in its 2000
"Millennium Declaration" resolution. As the legislation goes on to
note, these goals include (but are not limited to): "eradicating
extreme hunger, promoting gender equality, empowering women," combating
communicable diseases, "ensuring environmental sustainability,"
affording access to clean water and sanitation and "achieving
significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum
Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid reminds us that, to advance these
ambitious goals, the Millennium Declaration would require the United
States to apply "0.7 percent of gross national product (GNP) as
official development assistance."
In other words, for each year between 2002 and 2015, the United
States would have to cough up roughly $65 billion over-and-above its
current foreign aid distributions. This amounts to a staggering
commitment of at least $845 billion - all to be given to the
notoriously incompetent and corrupt United Nations to manage.
Voters need to establish whether, as it appears, Mr. Obama has, in
fact, no problem with either the magnitude of this redistribution of
wealth or with the idea of having international bureaucrats dole it
out. We also must know whether he agrees with the United Nations
functionary who is the driving force behind its Millennium Project,
Harvard Professor Jeffrey Sachs, who insists that a new "global tax" on
carbon emissions is required to underwrite his agenda for spreading the
Just as wealth creation domestically has proven to be more conducive
to national prosperity than wealth redistribution, it would be far
better to find ways to grow the global "pie," rather than have national
or international officials apportion it to their liking. One of the
most promising ways to do the latter is to adopt another piece of
bipartisan legislation: the Open Fuels Standards Act.
This legislation (H.R. 6559 in the House and S.3303 in the Senate) -
which neither Sens. Obama nor McCain have as yet co-sponsored - would
require most new cars in the United States to be capable of running on
ethanol or methanol, as well as gasoline. Inevitably, this Open Fuel
Standard would become the international one. The result would be to
enable some 100 countries around the globe to begin growing their own
fuel, rather than continuing to impoverish their peoples by having to
buy oil at exorbitant prices from the Organization of Petroleum
Rewarding America's Joe the Plumbers for their enterprise, rather
than penalizing them, is the right answer for this country and its
economy. Similarly, we are far more likely to see the wealth earned
pursuant to the Open Fuel Standard truly alleviate world poverty than
by having politicians or officials impose global taxes - and spread
around the resulting revenues, at huge expense to U.S. taxpayers and
their sovereignty and interests.