Obama Administration

Obama's Mission: Increase Dependence

Americans are not yet that dependent upon the providence of their sovereign for their existence. But don't blame the president for lack of trying.

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History will remember President Barack Obama for many things. One of them will be his campaign to increase dependence on government—a goal he has pursued with missionary zeal.

Everyone needs a helping hand to get through life at some point. Some people, through no fault of their own, need a helping hand for the entire journey. Government has a role to play in providing it, as even apostles of market economics, such as Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek, recognized. But for many decades, the general (and correct) sense was that depending on government should be a last resort: People should support themselves if they are able to, lean on friends and family when they aren't, and rely on the coerced assistance of others only so long as absolutely necessary.

The president does not share that view. This has become abundantly clear to most people, thanks (inter much alia) to Obamacare. And yet the president keeps trying to remove every last shred of doubt. Hence some of the proposals in his State of the Union address.

These include an $80 billion expansion of a federal program that provides state grants to help low- and middle-income families purchase child care, as well as an extension of Head Start (despite two studies by his own Department of Health and Human Services finding the program doesn't work). At the same time, the president wants to eliminate dependent-care flexible spending accounts.

Those FSAs are similar to medical savings accounts, in that they let workers squirrel away pre-tax dollars to pay for child care. The combined effect of the two policy changes would be to discourage people from saving for child care and encourage them to seek the government-funded kind instead. There is no good reason to do that, except to drive more people into government's dubious embrace.

Likewise, President Obama also planned to end the tax exemption on earnings from 529 college-savings plans until public outrage forced a retreat. Those plans allow people to save their after-tax dollars in certain investment portfolios and then draw out that money, plus earnings, tax-free to pay for tuition and other college expenses. Twelve million families have 529 plans; the majority of them earn incomes of less than $100,000. Yet the president tried to paint 529 plans as a special favor to the rich.

Revoking the tax benefit for 529 plans would have discouraged middle-class people from saving for college. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has expanded a program to forgive the debt on student loans, many of which already are provided by or subsidized by the federal government. Thanks to a stroke of the president's pen, individuals who go into government work (big surprise) or certain nonprofit work will be able to write off tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

As The Wall Street Journal noted, the combined effect of those two policy changes would be "to punish private savings in favor of politically controlled subsidies and grants." The paper could have added that through his debt-forgiveness program, the president apparently also wants to discourage people from working in the one part of the economy—the for-profit private sector—that actually pays for everything else.

The number of Americans on food stamps has skyrocketed since the president took office. Some of that resulted from the recession. But a significant proportion of the increase resulted from policy changes that have relaxed eligibility criteria for food stamps.

The president also eviscerated the work requirement in the welfare reform of 1996. He did so by offering waivers to states that substituted a "universal engagement system in lieu of" the work requirement, so long as governors promised (cross their hearts!) that doing so would move more people off the rolls. This is like eliminating EPA sulfur-emission limits for states that promise on a stack of Bibles they will lower sulfur emissions some other way. (What's more, the administration had to ignore the plain language of the 1996 law, which allowed waivers for various things but specifically forbade waivers of the work requirement.)

In 2012, the Obama campaign unrolled a supposedly uplifting vision of life in Obama's America. The "Life of Julia" slideshow depicted a woman's passage from childhood to dotage. At nearly every point, Julia relies on government to get her through. Reliance upon family, friends, church, charitable groups, and other social institutions is nonexistent. And Julia certainly doesn't get credit for doing anything herself, such as studying hard in college or taking a second job to get ahead. Even when she starts her own business, it's thanks only to a government loan.

The American people are not yet that dependent upon the providence of their sovereign for the continuation of their existence. But don't blame the president for lack of trying.

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  1. This article looks familiar…

    1. Deja vu all over again.

  2. Independent, self-reliant people are uppity and much more difficult to rule.

    1. Worse than that, they tend to succeed. And we all know that successful people are often bourgeoisie and we can’t have them in our socialist utopia.

      Down with the bourgeois. Down with independence. Up with the proletariat. Up with equality.

      /derp

      1. And there will still be some wiseguys who’ll find a way to be more equal then the others.

        I could imagine some folks thanking government like if government is his/her daddy or doing a prayer to government. Suffering from a dependency called “governmentholism” and being a “governmentholic”. 😉

  3. “Everyone needs a helping hand to get through life at some point. Some people, through no fault of their own, need a helping hand for the entire journey. Government has a role to play in providing it”

    Did I just wander into the Huffington Post?

    1. Not sure if this part of the article was sarcasm, or a bit of Libwapping.

    2. Not sure if this part of the article was sarcasm, or a bit of Libwapping.

    3. I’m assuming he only meant the severely and chronically disabled, which should be very few people indeed.

      This article encapsulates how I view the social safety net. It’s acceptable only insofar as it is absolutely necessary.

    4. No man does it alone. No man is an island. “We the People” means just that: “We” as in community. I find it so ironic that so many anti-government folks want to shovel money into churches and let them take care of the needy. These are the same folks that seem to forget the founding fathers wanted to make sure the church didnt have all that power. when they do, they can refuse to help certain groups in need, like they actually do today, they are free to discriminate minorities, then whine when the government tries to explain to them, if u want to be tax free, while getting government hand outs, u need tp treat all peopl equal.

      1. you seem a bit confused. I’m not saying that to be insulting. I’m just trying to understand your comment. “no man is an island…” we understand that. Free markets and the division of labor are concepts we study thoroughly. If you haven’t taken the time to study these concepts, you won’t understand both sides of the argument and why we reach the conclusions we do. Just because we don’t want the government to do something (i.e. charity), doesn’t mean we don’t want it done at all.

      2. The church has never threatened me with jail if I haven’t titled.

        The church should be no ore compelled to assist anyone it doesn’t want to than any private venture or individual citizen.

        Don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not pro church I just believe in leaving people alone. I wouldn’t be the least bit hurt if churches lost their tax exempt status or became subject to corporate taxes.

        It also occurs to me to some people forget that the founding fathers tried to prevent the government from having many of the powers it currently claims.

  4. I was hoping for evidence to the second assertion. The one asserting that “The American people are not yet that dependent upon the providence of their sovereign for the continuation of their existence.”

  5. Conservatives in the USA are the only group that enjoys distribution of wealth, aka Socialism. They pay less taxes in “Red” states, which are primarily conservative Christians, and they get more back from the US government than those who pay more taxes, those in “Blue” states, where the citizens are primarily Democrats, or Liberals.

    Ayn Rand Worshippers Should Face Facts: Blue States Are the Providers,Red States Are the Parasites: http://tinyurl.com/ljsfj7p

    Right-wing coup: Deluded secessionists have already won. Conservative secessionists want their own country? Their agenda already rules, even though a majority opposes it. By David Sirota: http://tinyurl.com/lxv7q5c

    1. Conservatives in the USA are the only group that enjoys distribution of wealth, aka Socialism.

      I don’t think any of these claims are accurate, or that you understand the meanings of any of the terms that you use.

    2. Your attempt to come across as insightful and intelligent gets quickly submarined by your use of the ridiculous assertion about federal spending.
      Do yourself a favor and do some research on why this metric is invalid. I’ll give you a head start.
      What are those federal dollars spent on?

  6. Red State Socialism and the Politics of Stimulus: http://tinyurl.com/mskc3tk

    The Most Hypocritical States are Usually “Red”: http://tinyurl.com/pwcmxxb

    1. The Most Hypocritical States are Usually “Red”

      Wow…”Most Hypocritical”. That’s a categorization that could never be seen as utterly arbitrary and based on flawed metrics.

      And gosh, it consists of a slide show with four basic statistics each. Such a complex model, it’s not at all possible that there’s any missing detail in there that might disprove a correlation-causation link.

      When’s the last time you took a statistics class?

  7. Two Santa Clauses or How The Republican Party Has Conned America for Thirty Years, by Thom Hartmann, January 26, 2009: http://tinyurl.com/bs4p4g

    The Two Santa Claus Theory, by David Dayen, Apr 30, 2009: http://tinyurl.com/kg3n2br

  8. Huh? You mean all those wacky GOP candidates in 2012 were right about voters and “free stuff” all along?

  9. Oh goodie, we have a new troll.

    1. Unoriginal too, I might add.

  10. The life of Julia? Such an apropos choice of name!

    “Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia!” Winston Smith

  11. Increased dependence has ALWAYS been the goal. Seriously – I’m kinda disappointed. I mean, okay, he updates with more examples as a reminder, but Jeez, ya think an avowed and dedicated Socialist is going to pursue programs that create more (D)ependent people? A friend of mine had a great line: “Both parties have perfectly thought out plans about how to make more voters of their party.”

    I’ve never understood why people don’t get the (il)logic of being the “party of the poor.” If that’s true, and you need more votes to win elections, what do you think Democrats want to create more of: rich people or poor people? Duh.

  12. Super powerful, rare earth, magnetic rods for you to play with.

    Make sculptures, puzzles, patterns, shapes, jewelry . . . the joy is endless.

    Totally compatible with all other BuckyBall sets!

    Each set comes with a little carrying case too.

    each BuckyBall is 5mm in diameter

    cube: 1 ?” high x 1 ?” wide x 1 ?” diameter

    For adults only. ? These are so super strong, they should be kept away from children.

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