MARK W. HENDRICKSON
It can be startling to realize how much of Karl Marx’s ten-point platform to socialize an economy (set forth in Chapter Two of “The Communist Manifesto”) has been implemented in the United States. I even wrote a book about it in 1987. Never before Barack Obama’s presidency, however, has a president pushed so assiduously to advance all ten points in Marx’s plan. Is it just a coincidence that Obama’s mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, was a card-carrying Communist and that Obama gravitated toward radicals such as alleged Cuban agent of influence Bill Ayers? Or, as the following synopsis shows, is Obama’s economic agenda is actually Marxist?
This cursory examination of Obama’s Marxian policies will be presented in two parts. The first part below will cover Marx’s first five points, and Part Two will review the second five points. The two planks in Marx’s platform that pose the greatest threat today are Numbers Five and Ten, so I will cover those in greater detail.
Here is a brief summary, with Marx’s wording being edited for simplicity’s sake:
#1. State control of territory.
On repeated occasions, Team Obama often has thwarted the development of domestic energy supplies through arbitrary regulatory control over massive tracts of federally owned land and restricting drilling in American waters off our coasts.
#2. Progressive income taxes.
Obama has an Ahab-like obsession with further raising taxes on “the rich” even though the top 1% of earners already pays almost as much of the federal income tax as the bottom 95% of taxpayers combined.
#3. Abolition of inheritance.
Obama has succeeded in reinstating federal inheritance taxes and recently proposed raising them further by reducing the dollar threshold at which the tax kicks in and no longer allowing that amount to be indexed to inflation.
#4. Confiscation of the property of emigrants and rebels.
The US has long been one of the few countries to tax its citizens on income earned abroad (a tax that applies to incomes above $95,100). In 2010, Obama won passage of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, which orders foreign financial institutions to provide information to the IRS about Americans’ offshore holdings.
#5. Centralization of the country’s financial system in the hands of the state.
Certainly this trend was well established before Barack Obama became president. Thanks to decades of deficit spending, enabled by an accommodating central bank willing to help underwrite the federal government’s chronic over-spending, Big Government and Big Finance have become joined at the hip. This was dramatically demonstrated in 2008 when George W. Bush gave his blessing to a federal bailout of Wall Street. By that time, the heavily indebted federal government had grown far beyond Main Street banks’ ability to finance its massive fiscal operations. Only the colossal financial infrastructure of the megabanks and other gigantic financial institutions was sufficient to maintain an orderly market for the federal Treasury’s seas of red ink, and so federal intervention to rescue Wall Street was an inevitable act of self-preservation on the part of Uncle Sam.
Yet, even though in some ways Obama is merely continuing in the direction charted by his predecessors, he has found a way to accelerate the centralization of credit in the hands of the state. I am referring to the 2010 Dodd-Frank bill—both its content, which Obama supported, as well as the aggressive ways in which he is having it implemented.
Dodd-Frank established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and designed it in such a way that its director would be completely unaccountable to congressional or judicial review while giving the director the power to set its own budget. It is difficult to imagine a less democratic, more autocratic power than that wielded by the director of the CFPB. The word “czar” has been used to describe certain presidential appointees, but the CFPB director has such broad powers and is so insulated from checks and balances that the description “czar” seems to be literally true.
While the stated purpose of Dodd-Frank was to reduce dangerous degrees of financial leverage, the larger import of the bill is the way it increases the government’s political leverage over a wide range of financial firms. President Obama, Sen. Dodd, and other supporters of the bill assured us that this law would protect Americans from the financial fallout of major bankruptcies by authorizing federal regulators to shut down financial institutions “in an orderly fashion” when they start to fail, or to bail them out. [Although Obama himself insisted that Dodd-Frank didn’t contain bailout provisions, two members of the president’s own party did. Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) stated that the bill expands “the safety net … to cover ever-larger and more complex institutions heavily engaged in speculative activities,” thereby “sowing the seeds for an even bigger crisis.” Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) categorically declared, “The bill contains permanent bailout authority.”]
Such life and death power, of course, gives the CFPB tremendous leverage over financial institutions. It doesn’t require a lot of imagination to anticipate how such immense power could be used as leverage (what in the private sector might be called “extortion”): “Listen, Ms. CEO, the guys at Treasury think you should do A, B, and C. You’re free to do what you want, but if you don’t do what they suggest, we at the CFPB may pull the plug on you. On the other hand, make them happy and they’ll name you ‘systemically important.’” The Dodd-Frank law has the potential to make vassals and serfs out of all financial institutions, which is exactly what Karl Marx wanted.
Lest you think Barack Obama wouldn’t use the powers of the CFPB to promote his own agenda, he couldn’t even wait until the director of CFPB, Richard Cordray, was duly confirmed (which the Senate finally did earlier this month) before the abuses started. As reported by Paul Sperry in Investor’s Business Daily on July 3, the Obama administration already was using the CFPB to “compil(e) a massive database of personal information” about “your bill-paying and spending habits.” In the context of a presidential administration that already has given ominous indications of being of the Big Brother type (e.g., NSA and IRS data collection) it seems that the Obama administration is moving in the direction not only of total financial control over financial institutions, but over all of us as individuals, too.
[To be continued in Part Two]
 Mark W. Hendrickson, America’s March Toward Communism, Libertarian Press, 1987.
 Mark J. Perry, “The top 1% of US taxpayers pay almost as much in federal income taxes as the entire bottom 95%, and half of that bottom group paid no taxes at all in 2010,” Carpe Diem blog, December 27, 2-12, 11:37 am;
 Mark W. Hendrickson, “Sen. Dodd’s Financial Reform Bill: The Problem of Leverage,” posted on Visionandvalues.org, April 28, 2010; www.visionandvalues.org/2010/04/sen_dodd_s_financial_reform_bill/
 Paul Sperry, “bama Credit Watchdog Snoops Personal Financial Data,” IBD Editorials, posted on investors.com, 07/03/2013 6:59 PM ET.
The Moral Liberal Contributing Editor, Mark Hendrickson, is Adjunct Professor of Economics at Grove City College, where he has taught since 2004. He is also a Fellow for Economic and Social Policy with The Center for Vision & Values, for which he writes regular commentaries. He is a contributing editor of The St. Croix Review, sits on the Council of Scholars of the Commonwealth Foundation, and writes the weekly “No Panaceas” column in the Op/Ed section of Forbes.com. Mark’s published books include: America’s March Toward Communism (1987); The Morality of Capitalism (editor, 1992); Famous But Nameless: Inspiration and Lessons from the Bible’s Anonymous Characters (2011); and God and Man on Wall Street: The Conscience of Capitalism (with Craig Columbus, 2012). Mark Hendrickson’s Archives at The Moral Liberal.