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Stark Economic Realities After The Hope-And-Change Hangover

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“I thought I could get free healthcare by making someone else pay for it...”

Those words appear in a clever graphic that’s making its way around Facebook – perhaps you’ve seen it.

The sentence sits atop a photo of an attractive young adult woman, likely in her late 20’s or early 30’s, as she stands looking forlorn with her eyes cast downward.

Then the sentence beneath the photo explains the woman’s new discovery: “…Now I realize that I am that somebody else.”

As Facebook posts go, this one qualifies as witty, yet the economic reality of the Obama agenda is no laughing matter. Thanks to President Obama and his party in Congress that forced Obamacare upon us, every American who works and produces income is a target for more government confiscation of their money.

For those of us who treasure our freedom -and who know better than to take it for granted- the realities of Obamacare are terrifying. But for those who are just emerging from a hope-and-change hangover and are only mildly irritated by the “bummer” of higher taxes, a few questions are appropriate. First, consider this: why did you ever believe all the President’s promises about healthcare in the first place?

Barack Obama spent the first two years of his presidency crossing the country and making promises about “healthcare reform.” “If you like your Doctor, you’ll be able to keep your Doctor.” “Healthcare reform will be a job creator.” The promises were never ending.

But even a cursory understanding of history over the past fifty years or so depicts a bleak picture for governmental promises. Whether it’s Chairman Mao’s China, Castro’s Cuba, Kim’s North Korea or Chavez’ Venezuela, the lesson is the same: governmental leaders who promise to provide for your every need are ultimately seeking to spend other people’s money for their own selfish purposes. Were Obama supporters so ignorant of history that they are genuinely surprised by his deception?

And here’s another important question: who manages wealth the best – private individuals and groups, or politicians and government bureaucrats? For most of my adult life the United States federal government has been fairly respectful of every American’s right to create, and possess wealth, and has mostly avoided being punitive towards the wealthiest in society.

Additionally, our government’s leadership has been fairly accepting of the notion that when Americans are permitted to keep more of their own wealth, rather than less of it, they usually do productive things with it that ultimately benefit the overall economy. Even Democrat President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors noted in 1994 that "It is undeniable that the sharp reduction in taxes in the early 1980s was a strong impetus to economic growth."

Yet today our nation is afflicted with a terrible philosophical malaise – I call it “the politics of envy.” With a President who campaigned on a pledge to “spread the wealth around,” many Americans today make the assumption that the wealthiest among us achieved their earnings by immoral means and deserve to have ever-increasing portions of it taken from them. Likewise the assumption is made that when individuals possess large sums of wealth they only do self-serving things with it, whereas politicians can force wealthy people to expand their businesses and “create jobs” and can spend people’s money in ways that benefit “everyone.”

This blessed view of government seems terrific – but is it really accurate? The agenda of President Obama and his Democrat party has helped create an environment where roughly half of the population pays no income taxes, so presumably the President has spread at least some wealth around.

But have the new controls and mandates and regulations placed on businesses, made in the name of the “collective good” and including the Obamacare mandates, really been beneficial to anybody? As Steve Wynn, CEO of Wynn Resorts, LTD recently noted, “those of us who have business opportunities and the capital to do it are going to sit in fear of the President…” Indeed treating business owners and the wealthy as though they are something less than dignified respectable human beings has produced a stagnant economy, and the constant threat from the President to raise taxes on the wealthy makes matters worse and not better.

And here’s another soul-searching question for the Obama partisans: is America strengthened when growing portions of its citizens are content to live off of the largess of others? According to the Congressional Budget Office, “Obamacare” has led many of our fellow Americans to believe that they simply no longer need to work for a living because of all the “free” assistance they can now get from our government.

This is not just political “spin” or partisan punditry. It comes directly from Douglas Elmendorf, the Director of the non-partisan C.B.O. It was none other than Mr. Elmendorf himself who noted in late 2010 that, outside the healthcare sector of our economy, the greatest impact of the Obamacare agenda will be in the labor market as the program incentivizes people to not work.

Is this really something that puts America on the “right track?” It may be creating more Obama re-election voters but it is certainly not leading our country to prosperity and productivity.

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