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January 23, 2015

An Offer You Can’t Refuse?

“Work with me. Don’t just say no,” Obama says before his veto threats.

Barack Obama hit the campaign trail this week after his State of the Union address to sell his new pet phrase “middle-class economics,” a phrase he’s working to ingrain in the political lexicon. According to the president, speaking at Boise State University, middle-class economics “means helping folks afford child care, and college, and paid leave at work, and health care, and retirement.” But beware of statists bearing gifts.

Middle-class economics is nothing more than a cradle-to-grave welfare state paid for through wealth redistribution. It will ultimately stifle economic growth and require – wait for it – more government welfare spending.

Obama latched onto this middle-class economics concept as a way to set the Democrats’ class warfare theme for the 2016 election. He spent much of 2014 trying to convince the public that, thanks to his policies, the economy was on the mend. Few believed him. So he came up with a clever new name for wealth redistribution and is now trying to rewrite history from the campaign trail.

Going on the road, giving speeches and lambasting Republicans as the enemies of the middle class are parlor games for Obama. This strategy guided everything that he, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid did when Democrats ran all of Washington. Now that Republicans control Congress, it’s a bit more difficult to label them obstructionist – not that Obama won’t try. Republicans have the power to set the legislative agenda, but that’s not going to stop this imperial president.

“I know there are Republicans who disagree with my approach,” Obama told the Boise crowd. “And if they do disagree with me, then I look forward to hearing from them how they want to pay for things like R&D and infrastructure that we need to grow. They should put forward some alternative proposals.”

Of course, Obama doesn’t want to hear ideas that aren’t in lockstep with his agenda. Indeed, he’s already threatened to veto just about every Republican bill under consideration. Yet he has the audacity to declare, “Work with me. Don’t just say no. You can’t just say no.”

Obama and his fellow statists assume the government should be involved in every aspect of the American economy. There is no debate about the constitutional role of government, only over how to pay for all the goodies. And that’s where class warfare and wealth redistribution come in.

Democrats hope to regain control in 2016 by appearing to be champions of the middle class. And they want to do it with “free” gifts paid for with higher taxes on the “wealthy.”

Unfortunately, this strategy often works.

The welfare state has greatly expanded over the last 50 years because people can’t say “no” to “free” stuff. Political analyst George Will explains, “More than twice as many households receive ‘anti-poverty’ benefits than receive Social Security or Medicare. Between 1983 and 2012, the population increased by almost 83 million – and people accepting means-tested benefits increased by 67 million. So, for every 100-person increase in the population there was an 80-person increase in the recipients of means-tested payments. Food stamp recipients increased from 19 million to 51 million – more than the combined populations of 24 states.”

This cycle of government welfare only perpetuates itself. It has become a way of life that is truly changing the American character. In the last 50 years, the number of men 25 to 34 who are neither working nor looking for work has almost quadrupled. The percentage of children born to unmarried women was nearly six times higher in 2012 than in 1964. And the percentage of people living under the poverty line hasn’t budged in 30 years.

Former New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a lifelong liberal, warned, “The issue of welfare is not what it costs those who provide it, but what it costs those who receive it.” Even he saw the inevitable. Today’s Democrats don’t care, however, as long as they can win elections.

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