Full Audio Of Drudge’s Obama “Bombshell” + Transcript

Full Audio Of Drudge’s Obama “Bombshell” + Transcript


The date of the broadcast is January 18, 2001. It’s in Real Player format, which is a pain, but if you want to listen to the whole thing you can.

The key section is here…where Obama argues against the courts redistributing wealth…

“Maybe i am showing my bias here as a legislator as well as a law professor, but you know, I am not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. You know the institution just isn’t structured that way.

Just look at very rare examples where during he desegregation era the court was willing to, for example, order … changes that cost money to local school district[s], and the court was very uncomfortable with it. It was hard to manage, it was hard to figure out, you start getting into all sorts of separation of powers issues in terms of the court monitoring or engaging in a process that is essentially is administrative and takes a lot of time. The court is not very good at it, and politically it is hard to legitimize opinions from the court in that regard.

So i think that although you can craft theoretical justifications for it legally, I think any three of us sitting here could come up with a rationale for bringing about economic change through the courts, I think that as a practical matter that our institutions are just poorly equipped to do it.”

Yep. The claim isn’t even accurate. They’re simply trying to push a false meme out there thinking that nobody will listen to this audio.

Read the transcript of all Obama’s remarks here.

  • http://www.iconicmidwest.blogspot.com Rich Horton

    Justin, are you missing the forest for the trees here? For starters, for a “law professor” Obama has missed the biggest hurdle to Courts being the method to acheive “redistributive change,” namely that it is unconstitutional. (You know… the whole thing about Congress and the power of the purse.)

    But isn’t the larger forest here the fact that Obama obviously is dedicated to “redistributive change”?

    Funny, I can’t find that on his campaign website.

  • http://www.donklephant.com Justin Gardner

    No Rich, as usual, you’re missing them.

    Obama doesn’t argue that the courts should do that, and if you read the transcript, you’ll see that.

    But since you probably won’t believe me or Obama, read this article from Volokh since I’m sure you’ll trust them. Key graph…

    It’s true that most Americans, when asked by pollsters, think that it’s emphatically not the government’s job to redistribute wealth. But are people so stupid as to not recognize that when politicians talk about a “right to health care,” or “equalizing educational opportunities,” or “making the rich pay a fair share of taxes,” or “ensuring that all Americans have the means to go to college,” and so forth and so on, that they are advocating the redistribution of wealth? Is it okay for a politician to talk about the redistribution of wealth only so long as you don’t actually use phrases such as “redistribution” or “spreading the wealth,” in which case he suddenly becomes “socialist”? If so, then American political discourse, which I never thought to be especially elevated, is in even a worse state than I thought.

    And to the idea that you can’t find it on Obama’s website…where is it on McCain’s? Or are you honestly telling me that you don’t think McCain favors progressive taxation?

    Long story short, our entire economic system is based on wealth redistribution. Obama wants the redistribution to go back to levels under Clinton. McCain wants it to remain the same.

    There is NO new news here.

  • ExiledIndependent

    Justin, I think you’re being a bit too biased about the excerpt of the transcript you chose to post. This is a big deal, it’s clear from the entire copy, and if you listen to the audio his tone, that he things that wealth redistribution should come from the legislature rather than the bench. It absolutely is not a question of “yes/no” but “how.”

    Does this thing have the Obama fans that spooked?

  • mark

    No one’s spooked but McCain fans who read the polls. :-)

  • kranky kritter

    I listened to the audio….it was at a big “Obama is the boogeyman” site.

    My interpretation is that the discussion sounded very academic. I VERY often say things like “one could argue that x” or “one could craft a rationale for y.”

    When I say such things, I am NOT arguing in favor of x or y, I am simply noticing that a reasonable and defensible argument can be constructed. My interpretation is that Obama did not at any point during the excerpts explicitly state that he himself is in favor of substantial redistributive policies by means legal or otherwise. Period. My understanding is that he was speaking theoretically, wearing his law professor hat, in assessing the problems and flaws inherent in using the courts to achieve political goals.

  • http://www.iconicmidwest.blogspot.com Rich Horton

    Justin your rationalizations here are nonsense.

    If we are only talking about, as you say “Obama wants the redistribution to go back to levels under Clinton.” Then why would Obama talk about courts at all? (Remember this is 2001 just after the Clinton admin ended.)

    It simply doesn’t make sense to claim Obama wasn’t talking about anything new.

    And if the Volokh quote is supposed to make me believe we should all be happy little socialists now…its not taking. But thats just me.

  • http://www.donklephant.com Justin Gardner


    Yes, he believes the legislature should do it, not the courts. We’re agreed on that point. As an independent this should make you feel better about Obama, not less.

    But, again, wealth redistribution is one of the foundations of our economic structure. It’s known by another name: progressive taxation. And, to my knowledge, McCain is in favor of progressive taxation. Therefore, he’s for wealth redistribution.

    As far as being spooked, all this does is make me angry. And people, you should be REALLY angry about this, but not because Obama is for wealth redistribution. You should be angry that McCain is trying to convince people that he’s not for it, when nothing could be further from the truth. Obama is simply in favor of 3% additional wealth redistribution on income over $250,000. That’s it. End of story. The end.

  • http://www.warning1938alert.ytmnd.com Jimmy the Dhimmi

    Justin, what is your opinion of giving income tax rebate checks to people with zero income tax liability? Is it morally acceptable to you? Keep in mind 40% of the American population have zero tax liability and would qualify to recieve cash payments under an Obama administration.

  • L


    What is your opinion of providing public education, roads and highways, and national defense to people with zero income tax liability? Presumably you might be okay with this wealth redistribution because it is best for society. Keynesian, as well as welfare, economics tells us that these sorts of tax schemes, similar to a negative tax, receives wide support both as a means of stimulating the economy and creating a sense of fairness within our society. Even prominent conservative economists, such as Greg Mankiw, support this sort of taxation.

    Now, say you take issue with the fairness aspect of the negative income tax argument; that regardless of why income inequality has been growing (technology, etc) we should do nothing about it. The argument still exists from welfare economics that this taxation has the potential to be welfare maximizing, and therefore better for our society. Now you shouldn’t ask if it is morally acceptable, because this isn’t a question of morals, but if it is based on sound economic principles.

  • http://www.warning1938alert.ytmnd.com Jimmy the Dhimmi

    How many times do ASC, MW or I have to tell you “L”? paying for public infrastructure is not wealth redistribution.

    You probably make more money than me because I am a red-neck, gun-totin’ republican rube. You have a better invested in a better education and because you are smarter than me and I have less ambition, you have a higher income. Therefore its not fair. Give me a cash payment in the name of fairness and equality. Give it to me. Give it to me or you should go to jail as a tax fraud.

  • L


    People who pay no taxes take benefits from public infrastructure while people in the highest income brackets likely do not gain nearly as much benefits as they pay. You are wrong that this is not wealth distribution.

    In a completely private society, wouldn’t the roads and schools you use be dependent on how much you could pay, and wouldn’t you pay for as much use as you’ll get out?

    If you can provide a good explanation for why public infrastructure is not wealth distribution, please provide one. Otherwise, I will say this again, you are wrong. In other areas of economics this is referred to as a positive externality, when one group benefits from the productive activity of another group without paying for that benefit. Here though, switch productive activity to taxation and make one group the people with zero income tax liability and another to highest income earners.

    Once again Jimmy, afford me an explanation for my ignorance, otherwise I’ll chalk this up to your bias. The fact that you use this public infrastructure is not adequate, people still gain as much as you off of your dollar, and likely those in the higher brackets derive fewer benefits than they pay.

    I don’t understand your second paragraph. Put more effort into making your emotionally-charged partisan statements more coherent.

  • http://www.donklephant.com Justin Gardner


    Nonsense, eh?

    Well, apart from the other conservative laywers I’ve cited, Ann Althouse also disagrees with you.

    And why would he bring up the courts? Because it was a discussion about our history and the courts and the constitution and he’s a constitutional lawyer. Come on Rich, you are really grasping here.


    I’m fine with tax rebate checks going to people with zero income liability. Because those are the folks who will put the money directly back into the economy and ultimately help everybody…including the rich. I don’t see how that’s morally unacceptable. And this whole nonsensical wealth redistribution argument that’s going around now…as if any other form of taxation would work? Please.

  • ExiledIndependent

    Justin, to suggest that McCain and Obama are equivalent on this issue is just silly. And I’ve never said that I was voting for McCain either. This audio is just an additional example that Obama wants to take the country in a more socialist direction–the textbook definition, not the boogeyman definition. I don’t agree with that direction.

    And the fact that Obama has called our Constitution fundamentally flawed worries me tremendously. I’m still waiting for Obama, Biden, Burton, or any of the other Obama mouthpieces to articulate what, exactly, is fundamentally flawed about out Constitution and how Obama intends to fix it.