"Fairness" must be a term that polls well. The President said some version of the word "fair" eight times in a relatively brief speech in Cincinnati about his latest "jobs" bill, and has made it a theme in his latest round of economic/campaign speeches.
When the President uses the term, he's talking about one thing: Raising taxes on higher income earners. Never mind that high earners shoulder most of the nation's tax burden and pay a greater share of federal taxes today than they have historically. The President thinks-or at least wants voters to think-that they are shirking their duty, passing the bill to the poor.
The Administration better be careful, however. I'm sure the American people do value the concept of "fairness" and want a government that treats people fairly. Yet Americans watching what's coming out of Washington are likely to recognize that it's government spending programs-all the supposedly job creating stimulus packages-that are inherently unfair.
That's the real scandal behind Solyandra. Americans are pretty use to stories of the government flushing our tax dollars down the proverbial economic toilet. Yes, a half billion dollars is a big number, raising some additional eyebrows. But that's not the real scandal of it. The real scandal is the basic concept that a small cadre of Energy Department officials are tasked with showering millions in taxpayer giveaways to a few favored companies, and therefore putting their competitors at a tremendous economic disadvantage. Those high-powered bureaucrats are prodded by folks at the White House to hurry up in rushing money out to companies that just happen to be backed by big political donors.
Americans everywhere are asking: What about my company? What about the start-up my brother is trying to create? What about the employer down the street that just laid off half the workforce because they can't afford to meet all of governments' regulations and still pay the bills?
President Obama also sells the stimulus by arguing that it will save certain jobs, which must also have high Q ratings: teachers, police officers, fireman, etc. And yes, Americans don't like to hear about cops and teachers getting canned.
But I wonder how many Americans are a little tired of hearing about these workers getting bailed out by government again. Americans working in plain old sales jobs or those trying to make and sell products that Americans want may be reaching their limit in sympathy for imperiled government-workers, who they know also happen to be union members, and a part of the President's re-election "army."
A government-run economy is inherently unfair. It is inherently political and corrupt. Yes, the market can be harsh. Companies with good intentions with good-hearted people go out of business all of the time. But it's far more "fair" than a system that increasingly depends on winning favor from government overlords who may shower your business or industry with subsidies or rain hell-fire down in the former of regulations and punitive taxes.
Fairness? I'm glad that's a concept that polls well. The American people surely are coming to understand that big government is by its nature unfair and a return to true fairness requires returning government to its proper role.