If our 44th president believes his economic policies resemble those of our revered 16th president, the latest National Review print edition offers a brief corrective.
One, Obama wants to pretend that he supports only opportunity-enhancing policies on par with the the Morrill land-grant colleges, instead of a vast, ever-expanding redistributive welfare state that would have unimaginable to the 16th president. Two, Obama loves to talk about Lincoln’s support for subsidies for the railroads, but the railroads were, unlike green energy, a genuinely transformative technology with immediate, practical application. (Even so, the subsidies fed corruption and waste.) Finally, the economic gospel of Lincoln was work and self-reliance: “Let not him who is houselesss pull down the house of another; but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.” President Obama’s cheap, economically illiterate populism would have been anathema to him. Besides, Lincoln admired people capable of defending themselves in debate.
Of course, the president is not alone in learning the wrong lessons from “Honest Abe.”