« BACK  |  PRINT

RS

FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR

How Obama Can Empower The Courts To “Spread The Wealth”

Back in the USSR

Over at NRO, the indefatigable Andrew McCarthy looks at Obama’s statements about redistribution and posits that, as president, he could try to revive a Soviet-backed UN treaty previously endorsed by the Carter Administration:

In 1966, with key help from the Soviet Union, the United Nations began promoting a monstrosity of a treaty known as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). It is chockablock with exactly the things Obama [based on his 2001 comments] would say government must do on your behalf: provide housing, clothing, education, health care, employment, a living wage that accounts for comparative worth (meaning the government, under the guise of preventing discrimination, determines what you are paid), limited labor hours, paid vacation and holidays, paid parental leave, nearly unrestricted trade unionization, social security (including “social insurance”), “equitable distribution of world food supplies in relation to need,” and so on.

This economic-justice compact was so patently socialist that, even at the height of his Great Society and War on Poverty, President Lyndon Johnson declined to sign it. So did Presidents Nixon and Ford. But alas, there is always Jimmy Carter. Thirty years ago, he signed the ICESCR, but it has languished ever since, never ratified. President Clinton lauded the treaty but shrank from prodding the senate, where staunch Republican opposition made the required two-thirds approval margin a pipedream.

Obama, by contrast, expects to have the wind at his back, at least for a time. Gone is the Republican Congress of the Clinton years. Despite their appalling performance and historically low approval ratings, cocky Democrats expect to pad their congressional majorities. They anticipate inching close to 60 seats, or beyond….

The Constitution stipulates that, once ratified, a treaty becomes the supreme law of the land. No longer would Obama need to worry about the “essential constraints” that relegate our fundamental law to “a charter of negative liberties.” Federal judges would now be unleashed to direct the redistributions necessary to ensure a “living wage” and the ICESCR’s remaining laundry list of economic rights.

Two points I would add. One, McCarthy doesn’t address whether Obama has ever formally taken a position on the treaty – has he been asked? Two, “a living wage that accounts for comparative worth” is precisely Obama’s goal in his current “spread the wealth” tax plan, which greatly expands the amount of money government pays out in checks to people who pay no federal income taxes, thus raising their incomes. So it’s hardly fanciful to suggest, in combination with Obama’s various statements on redistribution, that this is precisely what he would favor.

Get Alerts