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April 21, 2023

Joe Biden’s Welfare Plantation

We never thought we’d fondly remember the presidency of Bill Clinton…

Joe “Unity” Biden promised in his Inaugural Address to “be a president for all Americans, all Americans.” Indeed, he was elected in large measure because voters fell for the silly notion that he and his nearly 50 years of Swamp experience would bring a calm, steady, bipartisan hand to the wheel after four tumultuous years of Donald Trump. How’s that going?

Need we ask?

The latest example of how far left Biden and his party have gone comes courtesy of the federal budget, and welfare programs specifically. Without bothering to debate the merit of a single idea, the president is now dismissing Republican budget proposals as “wacko notions.” After exploiting the pandemic to wave away aspects of federal law, Democrats claim to be aghast at the work requirements Republicans want to reinstitute for welfare/income redistribution schemes. Republicans are, Biden accuses, “cutting benefits for folks” who “they don’t seem to care much about.”

Maybe Scranton Joe isn’t aware of the dramatic political realignment in recent years, wherein the wealthy and well-educated are now Democrats, and the rest of us regular yokels are now Republicans.

In any case, back to the point. The nation has once again hit its debt ceiling, and the debt is fast approaching $32 trillion. Republicans who control the House must negotiate with Democrats who control the Senate and White House over how to tackle that.

House Republicans want to tie a $1.5 trillion increase in the ceiling to mild spending restraint. They aim to reduce $60 trillion in future outlays by about $4 trillion in part by reimplementing and expanding work requirements for able-bodied adults to receive transfer payments for Medicaid or food stamps. An eye-popping 85 million Americans are on Medicaid, while 40 million Americans — well over 10% of the population — are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (a.k.a. food stamps).

We know that Biden has spent the last two years cutting people’s real wages through inflation, squeezing the life out of wage-earning Americans, but this is ridiculous. It’s also not about Americans who are working already.

The Wall Street Journal reports: “More than four million Americans ages 18 to 59 who aren’t disabled and don’t have children at home are on food stamps, according to the Congressional Research Service. Yet only one in four are employed.” That’s symptomatic of the larger employment problem in the country, with millions of jobs unfilled because so many Americans are paid to remain on the sidelines.

The GOP proposal is hardly radical, and yet Biden dismisses it as “wacko.” What’s wacko is that Biden has moved so far to the left. We’re old enough to remember the 1990s, when Republican Newt Gingrich came together with Democrat Bill Clinton to pass welfare reform, implementing those work requirements for federal assistance. Then-Senator Joe Biden happily voted for that “wacko” idea. The vast majority of Americans still support it.

Nevertheless, Democrats and Biden in particular love to cry about how extreme Republicans have become. “This isn’t your father’s Republican Party,” Biden has been repeatedly exclaiming for a couple of decades now. Yet Republicans today are still trying to mildly kinda sorta rein in federal spending, just like they were in the 1990s when a Republican Congress managed to balance the budget. Today’s GOP is not even remotely proposing the kinds of measures that are increasingly necessary for true fiscal responsibility or constitutional governance.

We would argue that wealth transfer payments are unconstitutional in the first place. We’re not alone, either. James Madison, who by the way wrote the Constitution, once told Congress, “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.”

Yet Joe Biden, Mr. President of All Americans, thinks what Republicans are calling for is a bridge too far. That’s because Democrats have built a system of systemic poverty, and they count on it for their current electoral advantage. They’re not about to let Republicans turn more Americans into responsible people who think and provide for themselves.

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