Media Defend Obama Against 'Socialism' Charge
Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama said on the campaign trail that it would be a good idea to ‚Äúspread the wealth around.‚ÄĚ But don‚Äôt call that ‚Äúsocialism‚ÄĚ unless you want to make enemies in the media.
The Obama proposal for refundable tax credits is ‚Äúdifferent from tax cuts or deductions,‚ÄĚ according to ‚ÄúCBS Evening News‚ÄĚ correspondent Wyatt Andrews Oct. 21. But Andrews said to define it as socialism would be ‚Äústretching the facts.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúMcCain calls it one of the biggest differences between him and Barack Obama,‚ÄĚ Andrews said. ‚ÄúThe claim that most of Obama‚Äôs tax cuts are actually government giveaways. On this claim, McCain has a point. Obama has proposed four new refundable tax credits, which are different from tax cuts or deductions. The refundable designation means that millions of taxpayers who don‚Äôt normally owe income taxes would get refund checks from the government.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúTo Gov. [Sarah] Palin, Obama‚Äôs plan reeks of socialism. This McCain Web ad calls it welfare,‚ÄĚ Andrews said while showing the ad. ‚ÄúThe welfare claim is false. To get Obama‚Äôs new refund checks, most taxpayers would have to have a job, a home mortgage or save $1,000 a year. It is not the old concept of money for nothing.‚ÄĚ
But whether or not Obama‚Äôs proposed redistribution of wealth is technically ‚Äúwelfare‚ÄĚ comes down to semantics. Andrews relied on a definition of welfare from Bill Adair of Politifact.com, who claimed tax credits aren‚Äôt welfare because welfare has ‚Äúconnotations of someone who is poor, who is just sitting at home, who is not working.‚ÄĚ
Roll Call editor Mort Kondracke also disapproved of the connection to socialism, but based his logic on the definitions of ‚Äúsocialism‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúwelfare.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúWell, I think it‚Äôs an arcane argument that is not going to be ultimately decided this election,‚ÄĚ Kondracke said on the Oct. 21 ‚ÄúSpecial Report with Brit Hume.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúI mean, I think the idea of whether this is a tax credit or a rebate or an extra earned income tax credit or a giveaway or a handout ‚Äď it is not welfare, because the people who get it are only those who are already employed. And it‚Äôs not socialism, because socialism means that the government controls the economy, which this is not. So, you know, I think that ‚Äď I don‚Äôt think it‚Äôs going to decide the election.‚ÄĚ
But saying something has socialist qualities doesn‚Äôt have to be an all-or-nothing definition. A McClatchy Newspapers made that obvious while attempting to debunk the ‚ÄúObama‚Äôs proposal is socialism‚ÄĚ claim.
‚ÄúSocialism involves state ownership of the means of economic production and state-directed sharing of the wealth,‚ÄĚ David Lightman and William Douglas wrote on Oct. 21 for McClatchy. ‚Äú
Despite media criticism, Palin didn‚Äôt say Obama‚Äôs plan was ‚Äúpure socialism‚ÄĚ in her critique ‚Äď just that there were ‚Äúhints of socialism.
‚ÄúThere are socialist principles to that, yes,‚ÄĚ Palin said of Obama‚Äôs plan on Oct. 19 according to CNN.com. ‚ÄúTaking more from a small business or small business owners or from a hard working family and then redistributing that money according to a politician‚Äôs priorities. There are hints of socialism in there.‚ÄĚ But just uttering the word ‚Äúsocialism‚ÄĚ has caused a media frenzy.
The Oct. 20 ‚ÄúRachel Maddow Show‚ÄĚ went as far as claiming the socialist labed was a veiled attempt to draw racial ire. She claimed invoking welfare was ‚Äúracially divisive code‚ÄĚ from the decades of the 1980s and 1990s.