Mona Charen

In a burst of Rooseveltian ingenuity, Obama's solution for the problem of increasing inequality is extending unemployment benefits, increasing the minimum wage and "investing in education." Rip van Obama seems to have dozed off for a few years. He and his party increased the minimum wage in 2009 and extended unemployment benefits to 99 weeks. It's impossible to say for sure whether such extended benefits prolonged joblessness, but this much is indisputable -- long-term unemployment (6 months or more of joblessness), combined with those who've given up searching at all, is at its highest rate since the Great Depression. When people remain unemployed for prolonged periods, they lose skills and their likelihood of ever finding a job declines.

Increases in the minimum wage are linked to joblessness, as well. Studies have shown that increasing the minimum wage causes increased unemployment among the young (the vast majority of minimum wage earners). Besides, if minimum wages were able to successfully combat poverty, why stop at $10.10 per hour? Why not $15 or $115?

Obama's explanation of recent economic history included this bit of agitprop: "As a trickle-down ideology became more prominent, taxes were slashed for the wealthiest, while investments in things that make us all richer, like schools and infrastructure, were allowed to wither." The man really does require a thousand full-time fact checkers. Taxes were slashed for the rich? Didn't Obama agree just last year that all Bush tax cuts were to be preserved except those for the rich? Didn't he thereby acknowledge that taxes were cut for everyone?

As for those "withering" investments in education -- making this claim is really a form of political malpractice. Politicians reliably crow for more money for education and just as reliably get it. Between 1969 and 1989, per-pupil expenditure at all levels doubled in the U.S. Federal spending quadrupled between 1973 and 2004. Concordia University reports that in the past 10 years, the federal government alone has spent $8 trillion on education. Test scores have remained flat, and students in urban schools are being robbed of their only possible hope of a better life. If Obama were serious about income inequality, he'd unshackle his mind and support true school reform.

Obama's presidency has been marked by the most stifling bureaucratic vise grip since the New Deal, hostility to the wealth-generating private sector, excessive debt, profligate "shovel-ready" spending and contempt for law and procedure. It's all been brought to you by a president who's never run so much as a lemonade stand. Reversing that will be the "defining challenge of our time."


Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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