“Did you hear about the new ‘Obama Happy Meal Deal?’” a friend posted on Facebook earlier this week.
“You order whatever you want and as much as you want, and the person in line behind you has to pay for it….LOL!”
Americans have always enjoyed poking fun at their Presidents, and cheap jokes that illicit more groans than laughs aren’t to be taken too seriously. But, as is often the case with humor, there was a slight bit of truth entailed in this little online anecdote.
The joke suggests that, even among people who don’t think much about politics and public policy, or who don’t often utter words like ‘socialism,” “Marxism,” or “economic redistribution,” there is nonetheless a growing recognition that our President likes to spend other people’s money. And in light of this, we would all do well to ask a couple of questions.
Let’s start with this: “Where did all the stimulus money go?” What began in February of 2009 as a plan that the President said would “save or create 3 to 4 million jobs,” and what his Administration claimed would prevent our unemployment rate from rising over 8%, had an original price tag of $787 billion.
Months later the price of the “stimulus plan” had ballooned up to about $813 billion, and neither the Administration nor members of Congress could offer many details about it. By the end of 2009, both the fiscally conservative Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who voted against it, and the big government liberal Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) who voted in favor of it, both admitted that there had not been proper oversight of how this enormous amount of taxpayer money had been spent (a fact that I documented in my latest book, “The Virtues Of Capitalism”). All this, as the unemployment rate continued to rise well above the 8% watermark.
So let’s ask this next: “Who benefits from the spending?” This is an especially painful question, because it’s easier to think in terms of who is not benefiting, and who is being harmed, by the spending.
Ethnic minority groups living in America’s inner city regions are most certainly not benefiting from the President’s wealth redistribution. As much as they may have superimposed their own expectations on to the President’s promises of “hope” and “change,” non-whites living in America’s urban centers are now experiencing some of the worst fallout of an economy that won’t expand.
Just last week an editorial by writer Walter Russell Mead, published in “The American Interest,” pointed out that Black America in particular is suffering under President Obama. Noting that some of the most staunchly Democrat states in the country – including Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota – have produced some of the highest double-digit unemployment rates among Black Americans, Mead described our current era as one of “deepening alienation, anger, and despair in America’s inner cities.” Of course it is still not acceptable for elected Democrats to admit that the president’s “spending solutions” are harmful. Thus, Chicago Police Chief Gary McCarthy recently chose to blame the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution for the rising crime and unrest in his city, claiming that the right to “keep and bear arms” is an “extension of government sponsored racism.”
Americans who have maintained good credit scores and payment histories are most certainly not benefiting from President Obama’s wealth redistribution policies. The President insists that his Administration is providing “help” to borrowers who have fallen on hard times, but in reality the Administration has bailed-out banking institutions, and not individual people. We now have a financial system that is incentivized by our government to “forgive” portions of debt and to modify repayment terms for consumers with bad credit, while banks ignore credit-worthy consumers who pay their bills on time.
On the other hand, banks and the people who run them seem to be benefiting pretty well from President Obama’s spending. So do certain executive level folks at certain companies in certain other sectors of our economy. In fact, a new research project conducted by Capgemini and Bank of America shows that the world’s population of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) with $1 million or more in “investable assets” rose 8.3% over the previous year, to a total of 10.9 million people. This is to say that while President Obama’s policies are not “creating jobs,” a lot of personal wealth is being created for select individuals.
As much as President Obama has served up plenty of harsh criticisms for “overpaid executives” and “greedy companies” over the last three years, businesses and corporate executives that have politically allied themselves with him have, in many cases, been “blessed” by his spending of our money. For example, ABC News reported earlier this spring that “billions” of “stimulus dollars” have been handed-over to unionized construction companies, yet “shovel ready” infrastructure projects still haven’t emerged. More interestingly, many of these same companies owe the federal government unpaid taxes – but, they’re unionized.
If you’re on good political terms with President Obama, you may get to order “as much as you want.” If you’re second in line, you may have to pay for it all.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.