by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
His supporters still might consider him to be “The One,” but President Obama is falling short of his goal of matching or surpassing previous Democratic Party icons such as Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. That’s the argument columnist Robert Patterson made recently in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
[S]even months into his second term, the 44th president is not offering Americans anything like a New Deal or New Frontier.
No, the Obama legacy has little to do with reenergizing the American economy or advancing American greatness. It’s about enlarging the welfare state, growing the dependency class, and squeezing Middle America. Granted, these developments predate Obama and even George W. Bush, but rather than reversing the ominous trajectory, the Obama administration has escalated it.
From the Affordable Care Act to his expansion of food stamps – an assistance program that imposes no work requirements – and his gutting of those commonsense conditions from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the president has focused on putting more Americans on the dole, not into jobs. Indeed, his administration has prioritized welfare “outreach” – extensive marketing campaigns that cajole targeted populations, including noncitizens and the middle class, to sign up for all sorts of public freebies, including Medicaid, food stamps, and, now, Obamacare.
Keep in mind: Obama’s signature legislative act is nothing more than a welfare scheme dressed up as health-care reform. Its central aim is to move millions of Americans into Medicaid, the means-tested program most in need of overhaul, or state exchanges, another bureaucratic monstrosity amounting to a complicated version of subsidized health insurance.
Even before fully implementing Obamacare, the president has driven annual federal and state means-tested welfare expenditures over the $1 trillion threshold, boosting Medicaid enrollment nearly 20 percent to nearly 60 million Americans, and the food-stamp caseload 65 percent to 47 million.
In the meantime, job growth has moved the other way. Obama has created just 270,000 net new full-time jobs in 41/2 years, based on the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data. In fact, more than 2 percent fewer Americans, relative to the population, are employed full time than at the beginning of his presidency. The shocking result: The number of Americans living in households propped up by means-tested welfare (about 107 million in 2011, per latest Census Bureau data) is encroaching upon the number of Americans who are fully employed (about 112 million for the same time period). Meanwhile, extending a trend that has haunted the country for decades, median family income remains stagnant.