by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
No, Forbes columnist Richard Miniter is not making the argument that our 44th president is a communist. Miniter is making the case that, like final Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Barack Obama is “a leader fighting desperately to save a system that economic and demographic realities no longer fully support.”
What’s the system? The eighty-year-old concoction Miniter labels “New Deal-Great Society liberalism.” Miniter first made the Obama-Gorbachev comparison more than a year ago. The latest issue of Forbes includes Miniter’s latest thoughts on the topic.
At [the system’s] heart are massive transfer payments for housing, health care, unemployment, job training, retirement and even funds for food, electricity and cable television. For decades these payments translated into votes for the party that championed them.
Wrongly, conservatives are gloomy that Obama’s massive expansion of the federal government’s role — longer-term unemployment benefits, boosts in student loans, a huge new role in regulating and running the health care sector — will mean the perpetual dominance of his party. They fearfully cite the statistic that almost half of America’s residents receive federal checks and conclude that the progressives have “bought” enough votes to win elections for the foreseeable future.
Why are they wrong? For one thing, many of the beneficiaries of the federal government’s largesse do not or cannot vote. But that’s not all.
Voters know that the federal debt is now the size of the entire U.S. economy. They know that the day of reckoning is coming, that entitlements will have to be reformed. Politicians who tell them this (New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Congressman Paul Ryan) are no longer punished but rewarded for their fearless honesty. So far Obama’s response has been to try to scare the public that they will see their government checks reduced or eliminated. The 2012 election will show if Obama can cox the old spells to work one more time.
For evidence that the “spells” have been causing problems since FDR first cast them, check out Amity Shlaes‘ book The Forgotten Man.