What Obama Can Learn From FDR

So writes Time magazine this week:

Alas for countless pundits and inspirational speakers, it is apparently not the case that the Chinese word for crisis is spelled by joining the characters for danger and opportunity. But that common fallacy nevertheless captures an important metaphorical truth: whatever the perils it brings with it, a crisis can be a grand opportunity. Among those who have understood that truth was Franklin D. Roosevelt. . . . [T]he crisis of the 1930s also provided an object lesson in the relationship between economic danger and political opportunity a lesson Barack Obama is now trying to follow. Obama, too, came to office in the midst of an economic crisis, and in the solutions he has offered, it appears he has often looked to the example of F.D.R., whose presidency and the very idea of activist government that it represents is very much back in the public mind this year. Roosevelt pushed through policies that aimed not just to deal with the immediate challenge of the Great Depression but also to benefit generations of Americans to come. Pulling off a similar feat will require Obama to persuade Americans to see opportunities in the present crisis as well.

Not bad. But it also provides me an excuse to link again to my first post at TalkLeft in the summer of 2006, What Obama Needs To Learn From . . . FDR. Probably my best post here. It's all been downhill since then.

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    Um, in what way (5.00 / 6) (#1)
    by dk on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 12:07:07 PM EST
    is Obama remotely pursuing policies that will benefit generations of Americans to come?  The so-called "public option?"  The inadequate stimulus plan?  Giving away trillions to banksers?

    I mean, as a historical discussion of what FDR did, this is fine.  But stating that Obama, through his actions, is even remotely doing the same is basically as flatly wrong as when Republicans try to label him as a socialist.

    ironic? (none / 0) (#6)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 01:05:13 PM EST
    But stating that Obama, through his actions, is even remotely doing the same is basically as flatly wrong as when Republicans try to label him as a socialist.

    Generations yet to come... (none / 0) (#60)
    by lambert on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 08:21:06 PM EST
    ... doesn't actually mean everybody in each generation, right?

    FDR was born into wealth... (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by Dadler on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 12:26:30 PM EST
    ...and into membership in the priveliged class.  As such, he had a much easier time telling that class they were greedy, thoughtless and destroying their country for the less fortunate.  Once he could turn his back on them, then real change started to happen.

    Obama has spent his life trying to get into that club, and he has shown no real inclination to turn his back on those most destructive now.  In fact, he is trusting that they are the ones who can make things better.

    Obama, sadly, is probably not capable psychologically of turning his back on the clique he spent so much time and effort getting into.  I hope its not so, I hope he can flip them the bird and soon, but I really don't see it happening.

    We are all prisoners of our own selves.  With rare exceptions.  Excruciatingly rare when it comes to politicians.

    FDR was also doing eleventh hour (none / 0) (#10)
    by jondee on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 01:36:53 PM EST
    damage control for the purposes of averting all-out revoloution. The man was the hard-eyed realists realist. Eleanor (gee, I think you're swell), was the idealist.

    I Agree (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by squeaky on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 12:48:50 PM EST
    Your first post was smoking.. (just re read it) Really great, but downhill from there? Nah.. Your posts have been very consistent, imo. That first post put down a foundation, which is really solid ground, good to come back to.

    Nice to dream of what a great leader can do though. And I love learning that the chinese character for crisis is danger and opportunity, a great hook. Nice article by David Kennedy..

    Thanks for sticking with TL..


    Greatness? (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by mmc9431 on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 12:54:08 PM EST
    Obama doesn't see the need to rise to greatness. I think he feels he's already there. Just being elected is enough for his ego right now.

    Both Obama and the Democratic leadership are more than content to tred water and maintain the status quo. Neither are willing to step out on any political limb.

    What they seem to have forgotten very quickly, is that they were elected by a substantial margin in the belief that they were going to lead and change the direction of the country.

    Wait a sec (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by lilburro on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 01:09:13 PM EST
    you are not insinuating that Obama needs to lead, are you?

    From my POV the entire healthcare approach thus far has been the opposite of what Time writes above.  The willingness to compromise and lack of personal leadership on Obama's part say to me that there is no crisis, that this is not a good opportunity.  And the message is also that this opportunity is so fragile that it must be handled with kids' gloves - ssh!  don't talk about anything else!  We're handling healthcare while we can!  

    Thus far I don't think Obama has been the master of public opinion that he needs to be.  I really liked Kevin Drum's analysis on the subject.

    The "public option" explained (none / 0) (#61)
    by lambert on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 08:23:10 PM EST
    Too bad Obama missed your original (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by Anne on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 01:13:50 PM EST
    post, BTD.  Not only is this:

    Politics is not a battle for the middle. It is a battle for defining the terms of the political debate. It is a battle to be able to say what is the middle.
    a lesson he did not learn, it is an opportunity he missed, much to our detriment.

    He's still going out of his way to use the right's terms to define where the middle is - I think someone with real leadership ability would be able to define the middle, firmly lay claim to that territory and then bring people there on its own merits.

    The Right's terms to define the middle (none / 0) (#12)
    by jondee on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 01:41:01 PM EST
    Barack, meet Bill.

    A war party with two right-wings, as people like Gore Vidal have been telling us for forty years.


    Goals vs Vision (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by koshembos on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 01:20:10 PM EST
    Before judging Obama's approach and failures one should realize that Obama came to the presidency with a collection of goal. Financial recovery was the pressing goal. Some form of health care reform and climate/green energy program where two other goals. General fairness towards the middle class in particular and the regular Jane in general were somewhat of an amorphic goals.

    The legacy of FDR is a wide spectrum of legislation, agencies, policies and goals that amount to a liberal vision. That's drastically different than the minimal target of Obama.

    Any comparison between the two, at least presently, reveals almost nothing in common and a lot of difference.

    Well, (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by bocajeff on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 01:42:52 PM EST
    I sure hope he doesn't imprison U.S. citizens in the hundreds of thousands for nothing more than their ethnicity or indiscriminately firebombs civilians in the hundreds of thousands. Or prolongs the great depression. Yes, there were good things as well, I'm just not another hero worshiper.

    there is a great (none / 0) (#14)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 01:56:54 PM EST
    tv movie around (HBO or SHO) I cant remember called The Gathering Storm which is about Churchill.
    it is a very interesting behind the scenes look at that period.
    doenst paint FDR as rosily as some others I have seen or Churchill either for that matter.

    Really? (none / 0) (#17)
    by Samuel on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 02:15:00 PM EST
    Historical fiction / HBO documentary?  That's the best we can do?  

    Regarding efficacy of the New Deal:  http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/FDR-s-Policies-Prolonged-Depression-5409.aspx  I can't find the full text at this point in time, maybe the link has expired)

    And the economic side of his administration (with sources) http://mises.org/books/rooseveltmyth.pdf


    you seem very angry (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 02:41:25 PM EST
    about something that happened 70 years ago.
    actually it reminds me of a story I read once.  the guy said when he was growing up he thought G@d Damned was FDRs first name because the only thing he ever heard was G@d Damned Roosevelt.

    Haha sorry. (none / 0) (#30)
    by Samuel on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 03:04:40 PM EST
    I mean you did recommend someone watch a fictitious account of history to educate themselves...  I was definitely grinning not seething when I wrote that reply.

    Well, (none / 0) (#36)
    by bocajeff on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 05:07:41 PM EST
    It's only anger when someone wants Obama to be more like him.

    The high degree of worship toward FDR by progressives is amazing considering how much effort they put into worrying about the treatment of maybe 100 or so people who may or may not be enemies. Don't get me wrong, I abhor all the crap that takes place, but 100 people tortured is considered to be as evil as can be but what FDR is brushed over because he has social security and FDIC.


    fwiw (none / 0) (#37)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 05:15:09 PM EST
    I worship no one.  least of all a politician.
    and also for what its worth I dont usually recommend tv shows for "education".
    the point was it is a good watch and from what I have read pretty factual.

    Churchill and FDR are both fascinating and flawed characters.

    the most interesting part of the Churchill thing was the recounting of how he lost the election after the war following being a major hero during it because he didnt seem to get that the world had moved on.

    wasnt it Churchill who said if you are not a liberal as a young man you have not heart and if you are not a conservative as an old one you have no brain.  or something like that.


    Time for a new paradigm (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by ruffian on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 04:14:32 PM EST
    It made sense to ask what Obama could learn from FDR 3 years ago when it seemed promising, but I'm convinced the FDR analogy has too many holes in it to be useful.

    Obama does not see himself as a bold or innovative policy-maker, at least in domestic policy. He sees himself as a consensus builder. At best he will build consensus around the lowest common denominator version of various policies, without trying to push the envelope very much, all the while insisting he thinks the better policies are a 'good idea'. 61% of the Senate will be needed for everything - he won't ask Reid to make opponents stage a real filibuster. Way to divisive.

    Will he veto bills that don't contain the better ideas? I seriously doubt it but I would love to be proved wrong.

    Obama can learn more from Putin (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by SOS on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 04:15:22 PM EST
    Vladimir Putin ordered the heads of Russia's top banks "not to plan any summer holidays" until the financing of the real economy is sorted out.

    Putin on Monday gave state-controlled banks a tight three-month deadline to hand out at least $13 billion in loans to major companies " and he told the bank"s CEOs that they couldn"t take vacations until they had followed orders.

    Hint hint

    Time has it backwards (5.00 / 2) (#40)
    by cal1942 on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 05:22:52 PM EST
    will require Obama to persuade Americans to see opportunities in the present crisis as well.

    Obama needs to be persuaded that there are policy opportunities in the present crisis.

    What Versailles learned from FDR... (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by lambert on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 08:32:00 PM EST
    ... is that FDR made way too many concessions to the peasants, and that they could have gotten away with a lot less.

    Obama is making that lesson come true.

    I have (none / 0) (#67)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 09:00:52 PM EST
    to tell you that I love your Versailles reference. The more I think about it and the more actions that I see coming out of Washington the more I think you are onto something. Perhaps you can tell me when we are going to have the revolution where the peons rise up against all this garbage?

    It probably won't be televised (none / 0) (#69)
    by lambert on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 07:49:50 AM EST
    Or blogged...

    Obama is.... (none / 0) (#2)
    by trillian on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 12:23:53 PM EST
    ...the Anti FDR.

    Obama is losing me... (none / 0) (#15)
    by magster on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 02:10:23 PM EST
    The centrist Dems in the Senate and House saw Obama's election as a challenge to its power and have sought to undermine Obama's stated goals.  Obama has thus far shown himself to be totally unable or unwilling to fight back.

    As gifted a politician as Obama is, I did not expect him to so quickly endanger the opportunity to keep a young and energized voting base squarely within the Democratic fold for a lifetime.

    If public option fails and the Energy Bill gets further weakened, Obama will be a lame duck by the fall and the Ben Nelson/Evan Bayh's of the Senate will be the de facto President directing the domestic agenda.

    LOL (5.00 / 4) (#18)
    by dk on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 02:28:16 PM EST
    Are you kidding me?  Look at who Obama's biggest supporters were in Congress last year.  I'll give you a hint.  They were, by and large, the centrist Dems.  They wanted him to win.  And now they are getting exactly what they want in terms of policy.

    It astounds me when people can't keep history straight even when it is barely a year old.


    His promises (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by magster on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 02:35:10 PM EST
    were progressive, and maybe he thought his centrist buds would be with him.  But if you compare what he proposed for the climate bill at the beginning to how it exists now, and do the same with what Obama has been advocating on health reform, Obama's starting point is more progressive then the centrists you're lumping Obama with.

    The question is whether Obama is unable or unwilling to fight for his stated goals, and at this point, I don't care.  Ineffective is what it is.

    If you want to say I told you so, feel free.


    I'll eat the crow with you (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 02:43:37 PM EST
    I believe he can still get it done, especially on health care reform.

    "Especially" on health care reforrm? (5.00 / 3) (#32)
    by Anne on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 03:16:46 PM EST

    Holy cow - health care reform is the thing he is going to screw up the most, and that is going to have the most negative effect on the most people.

    Is this an opinion you have based on what you are seeing and hearing, and liking what you are hearing, or thinking he has the right idea, or is it just a matter of hoping he can pull it off?


    Obama (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 05:18:56 PM EST
    has never been the least bit interested in healthcare reform so I dont know why you think that he'll get it done.

    Obviously (none / 0) (#45)
    by squeaky on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 05:38:33 PM EST
    Neither do you. Your priorities are clear, heath care reform is not one of them.

    Well (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 05:41:24 PM EST
    considering that it's been one of my issues all through last year and I decided who to support based on it then you certainly havent been payhing attention and Obama's behavior on this issue has been abysmal unless you agree with the GOP on healthcare.

    Oh Really (5.00 / 0) (#52)
    by squeaky on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 06:01:41 PM EST
    I thought your main interest was bashing Obama.  98% of some 4300 comments here speaks truth to that.

    Maybe I missed all the work you have done here regarding health care reform, you probably do that on another blog.


    Oh (none / 0) (#54)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 06:41:05 PM EST
    sorry but I care more about issues than stroking Obama's ego. There's enough sycophants doing that so I dont think he needs another. I'm glad to know that I have a stalker who obssesses about my comments.

    Not this again (none / 0) (#55)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 06:47:56 PM EST
    I love a fight as much as anyone but I implore Ga6thDem and Squeaky to just walk away.

    Obviously your view differ on this.

    Now move on.


    Bwahahaha! By what, passing a national (2.00 / 0) (#57)
    by masslib on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 07:43:55 PM EST
    MA health insurance plan?  Let me tell you something, Obama does not have the slightest clue about how policy can survive long-term.  He doesn't understand political legs.  What we are going to end up with, is some sort of public plan for the lower middle class, paid for by the middle and upper middle class, and that, my friend, is politically unsustainable.  If Obama were remotely like FDR, he would have at the very least expanded Medicare to those 55-65 when he pushed through his meager stimulus.  A plan by which every American by law must purchase private health insurance is nothing like social security.  It's not even in the same ballpark.  Obama doesn't have one ounce of the chutzpah of FDR.  He doesn't understand the public like FDR.  He doesn't have the drive of FDR.  Obama is no FDR.

    so do I (none / 0) (#27)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 02:49:02 PM EST
    particularly health care reform.
    he is a smart guy and I think he knows if he has a legacy that will be it.  one way or the other.

    and this is a guy who wants a legacy.


    The problem (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 05:21:02 PM EST
    I think he has is that he thinks he already has a legacy as being the first black president. And while that is true, it seems to be enough so far. Why do you think that he'll all of a sudden embrace policy when he has shown no interest in policy his entire political career?

    IMO (5.00 / 0) (#43)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 05:33:21 PM EST
    he will not be satisfied with that ready made legacy.

    Well (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 05:38:20 PM EST
    you're certainly welcome to your opinion but I've seen no actions to back it up. He certainly was never concerned with leaving a mark in the other political offices that he held. As far as I've seen, he's done nothing as President that he didnt do as a state senator or US Senator. Healthcare is probably the subject he is LEAST likely to leave a mark on simply because he campaigned AGAINST any real changes in teh system and advocated holding hands with the special interests in health insurance. I see Obama's "healthcare reform" as the same thing as Bush's "Medicare Part D". It'll be something strictly written to the advantage of his campaign donors and the public can be tossed aside.

    Oh, I think Obamacare is going to (none / 0) (#49)
    by Anne on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 05:44:07 PM EST
    leave a mark - but not a pretty one.

    That's (none / 0) (#51)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 05:50:33 PM EST
    actually what I'm afraid of. Obama will mess it up so badly that we'll never be able to have any reform. From what I've seen at this juncture, we'd be better off having nothing done.

    Pretty redundant.... (none / 0) (#41)
    by NYShooter on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 05:26:26 PM EST
    "Health Care Reform." Kinda like "change."

    What does it mean? Health care reform. Like a box of pick-up sticks? Just stick'm in a tube, shake, and pop'm out.....reform.

    That's the problem, "health care reform;" what a boring comment. Insomnia? Forget AmbeSleep, just say "health care reform three times;you'll be snoring at two.

    "Change,"......"health care reform." The words are meant to insinuate improvement, but in reality they're just neutered words. Sounds nice, nothing changes, everyone's happy, self-congratulations all around.

    Health care reform; I hope it's as successful as the "war on drugs."


    Legacy? (none / 0) (#46)
    by cal1942 on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 05:41:15 PM EST
    Obama's concept of legacy is different from the concept held by many if not most of us.

    Effective legislation of long term beneficial impact, the establishment of an enduring center is not, IMO, Obama's concept of legacy.

    IMO that was abundantly clear in the primaries and has been demonstrated since January 20.


    He is so (none / 0) (#58)
    by NYShooter on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 07:49:27 PM EST
    desperately afraid of losing, of rejection, that he begins with safe mediocrity, and negotiates down.

    No exposure, no risk. No loss, no pain. Ka-Ching!, chalk up another victory for President Obama.


    And "get it done" would mean? (none / 0) (#63)
    by lambert on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 08:30:09 PM EST
    Paying more for less is an entirely plausible scenario if the mandate passes, and the subsidies aren't enough. (And it's not like the Blue Dogs and the centrists would ever chip away at a subsidy that's already being labelled welfare and a tax, right?) Of course, if by "get it done" you mean pass some legislation, any legislation, as long is guarantees the insurance companies a market...

    Obama's real starting point (5.00 / 3) (#25)
    by Anne on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 02:46:07 PM EST
    is never the lofty goal-of-the-moment he rhapsodizes about in speeches; instead it is almost always, "what can I concede or compromise on to get you on my side?"

    Nothing is ever non-negotiable, even when there is something that should be.  He's "always open" to taking less, doing less, watering things down.

    When all is said and done, we'll be left with the equivalent of undercooked plain oatmeal, with a side of burnt toast and watered-down skim milk to help us choke it down.  Mmmmm...yum.


    Well (none / 0) (#56)
    by hookfan on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 07:07:26 PM EST
    state secrets, unitary executive, and money for bankers but not homeowners seems non-negotiable.

    I guess the key there is that none of (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by Anne on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 07:50:05 PM EST
    those things have any real benefit for the people, but are all about protecting the a$$es of those in charge.

    Good to know what the priorities are, eh?


    I don't think his central right buddies (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by MO Blue on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 02:51:57 PM EST
    would agree with you.

    IIRC Claire McCaskill, so called Democrat,  said that people who voted for McCain would be surprised and pleased with Obama's agenda.


    His promises were not progressive. (5.00 / 3) (#29)
    by dk on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 02:53:38 PM EST




    The second link is of a TV campaign ad Obama ran in the GE, titled "Health Care Extremes."  The relevant narration says:

    On healthcare reform, two extremes:

    On one end, government run healthcare - higher taxes. On the other, insurance companies without rules denying coverage.

    Barack Obama says both extremes are wrong.

    Obama promised a "middle ground" that fits in quite nicely with what Baucus, McCaskill, heck, even Snow were and are advocating.

    And by the way, I'm not saying I told you so.  What I am saying is that your attempt to say that Obama was or is some kind of progressive (or even that he said progressive things) is not backed up by the record.


    Can you say Claire McCaskill? (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by oldpro on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 02:42:16 PM EST
    No Obama Can't Govern Like FDR in 1933 (none / 0) (#16)
    by Saul on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 02:10:33 PM EST
    Here is article that argues that Obama cannot govern like FDR by Michael Barone

    Madoff knew where to get the money. (none / 0) (#20)
    by oldpro on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 02:39:19 PM EST
    It's not exactly a secret...

    What does that mean? (none / 0) (#31)
    by Samuel on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 03:14:12 PM EST
    You do know what a bond auction is correct?  If you're alluding to the fact that all bonds are in a sense counterfeit at this point - I don't think the comment would apply, here's why:

    Either we pull capital from investors by auctioning the bonds off (our typical practice) OR the Fed prints more money.  If the Fed "monetizes" the deficit then there's an overall increase in dollars, whereas if private investors/foreign countries purchase bonds no additional dollars are created.  

    The monetization route would send the dollar plunging against commodities and foreign currencies.  The Federal Government needs private investors to be confident enough to buy the bond financing the current deficit at auction.  If they cannot push these bonds then the bond market will implode.

    My point was that if Obama starts "acting like FDR", which I take to mean making changes that cost money (rather than cut spending) - there are even more bonds up for auction in what we can safely assume will be a weak market.  "Acting like FDR" is putting the entire bond market at risk.  


    Sutton's law is what I meant. (none / 0) (#66)
    by oldpro on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 08:51:11 PM EST
    (See below).

    In a word....taxes.


    Deficit size si larger (none / 0) (#68)
    by Samuel on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 07:26:12 AM EST
    than expected because tax revenue is lower.  This means more bonds must be auctioned or monetized.  Unless I'm missing something...

    Whoa. Missed your original (none / 0) (#24)
    by oldpro on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 02:45:03 PM EST
    post...thanks for the tour.

    Made my day.  Maybe even my week.

    BTW...unclear to me...are you the one who 'outted' Digby?

    Uh not to my knowledge (none / 0) (#26)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 02:48:43 PM EST
    Are you serious? (none / 0) (#50)
    by Samuel on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 05:47:05 PM EST
    Can't tell.

    yes (none / 0) (#53)
    by cal1942 on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 06:27:55 PM EST

    I agree re scale....I was referring (none / 0) (#65)
    by oldpro on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 08:49:48 PM EST
    to Sutton's Law.  Remember Willie Sutton?  Bank robber?  He denied it, but was quoted as answering a reporter's question as to why he robbed banks by saying "because that's where the money is!"

    Yes.  My point exactly.  Need money?  Go where the money is...as Willie and Madoff did.  But yes, It's all relative.

    Raise taxes on higher incomes...all those who profited by the bubbles and the bailouts...bigtime.  And a lot higher than Clinton did.  I'd add to that a 20% luxury tax on jewelry, yachts, BMWs, Ferraris and Maserratis, etc. etc.  (Make your own list)  

    "Claw back".... (5.00 / 1) (#70)
    by lambert on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 07:50:59 AM EST
    ... is the phrase you are looking for. Let's confiscate a lot of inherited wealth, while we're at it. An aristocracy is forming before our eyes, has been since the Reagan Era.