Be sure to read this article by William Voegeli in National Review detailing the history of Obama’s and the Democrats’ deceptions about Obamacare. If you think you’ve read tons before about the same thing—well, you probably have, but not quite like this one, which is especially fine.
Liberals rely on bait-and-switch tactics because they fear the results of describing their agenda clearly and candidly to voters, who can’t handle the truth. Even an elementary truth, such as the proposition that improving health care will cost money rather than save money, must be denied over and over, lest don’t-tread-on-me rubes start asking awkward questions about how much improving health care is going to cost and where the money will come from. Once a policy such as Obamacare is enacted and implemented, making the switch means admitting the obvious, and then claiming it’s so obvious — “everyone always knew” it would cost money and disrupt existing health-care arrangements — that it doesn’t really qualify as a switch. The villains in this story are not the liberals who spoke incontestable untruths when political circumstances called for telling people what they wanted to hear. The villains are conservatives who complain about the deceits by commission and omission.
But rather than discuss that sort of thing all over again, I want to focus on one quote about a figure from the past, FDR, that caught my eye. Voegeli writes:
Even though New Deal–era dreams about a centrally planned economy have been abandoned, liberals refuse to accept that a decent society can rest on the alchemy that purports to turn private interests into the public interest. Franklin Roosevelt hailed Irish and Hibernian societies around the country on St. Patrick’s Day in 1937 for their fealty to the motto “Not for ourselves, but for others.” That spirit, he said, should animate not just charity but private and public life, given that “selfishness is without doubt the greatest danger that confronts our beloved country today.”
Which brought me to the question: did FDR give a lot to charity? In other words, did he practice what he preached?
FDR was undoubtedly an extremely rich man by the standards of his era. His wealth was inherited (estimated at the equivalent of about $60 million today), and his career was almost entirely in public service and especially politics, at which he was wildly successful.
Here’s an article that discusses FDR’s taxes and charitable giving:
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s returns harken back to an era when federal tax rates where considerably lower. In 1929, FDR paid about 11% in taxes and gave away 12.5% of his income. Interestingly, following a rate hike in 1932, his charitable giving dropped to about 3%. (A couple of the recipients of his largesse: the Will Rogers Memorial Fund, $100; the American Ornithological Union, $3.) As Reason notes, FDR wasn’t above trying to avoid paying his fair share of taxes, either: In 1937 he tried to talk the IRS into taxing him at 1933 rates.
So, that doesn’t sound all that bad or all that good. In those days the tax rate was low, although he wasn’t above trying to get it lowered for himself in 1937. His charitable contribution seems high-ish, although he wasn’t above lowering it when the tax rate went up.
The taxes, and the percentage of income given to charity, are only on income. FDR’s income at the time wasn’t all that great. Although it was not inconsiderable, it didn’t even begin to reflect his actual wealth. Looked at that way, his charitable contributions were pretty paltry. Perhaps FDR reasoned that he didn’t need to be personally charitable because he forced every person with substantial assets to be involuntarily charitable through increased taxes. If so, that wouldn’t be an unusual point of view among liberals.
Also, if you look at the charts, you’ll see that the Bushes, both George H.W. and George W., had very high charitable contributions in terms of percentage of their incomes. Again, this doesn’t reflect their actual wealth, which was far greater than their incomes. But their voluntary contributions certainly represent a good chunk of what they earned, particularly for Bush the Elder, who made well over a million dollars in 1991 and gave away about 62% of that to charity.