First of all, what is a socialist?
A socialist is a person who believes in "an economic and political theory advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of production and distribution of goods." (That's from Merriam Webster Online.)
Please, if you are among those who like to sling the "socialist" epithet around about Obama, could you send me a link to one statement that Obama has made advocating government ownership of production and distribution of goods?
McCain and Palin jumped on Obama's statement that "when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everyone," suggesting that this is a clear indication of his socialist tendencies. "Now is no time to experiment with socialism," Palin said. Is "spreading the wealth" a socialist concept?
They seem to be confusing socialism with progressive taxation, which, unless you're a flat-taxer, you support. This article busts several myths about progressive taxation, and makes a case for common wealth (taxes) serving the common good. It argues that government serves at least two functions, including protection (police, emergency services, public health, the military, etc.) and empowerment.
The wealthy have made greater use of the common good--they have been empowered by it in creating their wealth--and thus they have a greater moral obligation to sustain it.
John McCain has also criticized Obama's plan to expand the earned income tax credit. McCain has said, "His plan gives away your tax dollars to those who don't pay taxes. That's not a tax cut; that's welfare." More recently, and with more hyperbole, McCain invented a brand new, bizarre tax-policy fiction: Obama's "tax plan would convert the IRS into a giant welfare agency, redistributing massive amounts of wealth at the direction of politicians in Washington." (Any time a politician uses the word "redistribution," it is code for "socialism.")
In fact, the earned income tax credit has been around for 30 years. In 1986, Ronald Reagan increased the earned income tax credit in order to boost take-home pay above poverty levels. When the credit is more than the amount of federal income taxes owed by an individual, that person receives a tax “refund.”
Ronald Reagan said of this legislation, “It's the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.”
Why would a guy like Warren Buffet support Obama if Obama were a socialist? He wouldn't. Would Bill Gates admire him? No.
If you want to understand what a real socialist sounds like, check out this statement of the Socialist Equality Party regarding the upcoming election.
So, no, Barack Obama is not a socialist--any more than any other politician who supports a government bailout of the financial industry, or buying bad mortgages from homeowners, or progressive taxation. Ahem.
I'm glad we've cleared that up.