Were They Duped Or Were They Stupid?

Posted: Nov 09, 2009 12:00 AM
In the 2008 presidential election, young adults voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. This voting pattern has generated much discussion and no small amount of head scratching, principally because the main consequence of these young adults’ electoral choice appears to be a huge tax on them. Ultimately, the question becomes: Were they duped or were they stupid?

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In late 1999, I went to Washington, DC, for a political forum that included all the Republican presidential contenders. Each candidate made a presentation followed by questions and answers. My question was for Senator John McCain. A significant element of Mr. McCain’s political platform was campaign finance reform. His proposal was similar to what eventually became the McCain-Feingold Act passed in 2001, which limited the amounts that individuals and entities could contribute to campaigns.

I had the first question: “Mr. McCain, I have a deep respect for you as an American and Senator, but could you please explain why you are proposing a law that appears to be contrary to Republican principles?”

This question deeply upset the Senator. He turned to the moderator and mumbled “And when did I stop beating my wife?” As I edged my way back to my seat, Mr. McCain followed me down the stage giving me an earful about how the youth of America was not voting, and that the reason they were not voting was because the campaign financing system in our country was broken and corrupt.

Senator McCain never really answered the question, but he was profoundly incorrect about why America’s youth wasn’t voting, and – trust me on this – I remember being a teenager much better than he does. It really is abnormal for anyone who is 18 years old to be concerned about our electoral system. If they are still students, they are often focused on graduating high school or getting into college. Many of them, regrettably, are more interested in getting drunk and finding someone to bounce around with on Saturday night. People like myself who were interested enough to work on campaigns were the exception – not the norm.

When these young adults finish school, they become most interested in building the foundation of their careers and their future life. It’s usually only when they settle down, buy a home, start a family, and begin to make progress in their careers that they start to realize how expensive government is, and begin to get involved in the political process. It has been this way for generations and is validated by voter turnout.

Barack Obama changed that and it had nothing to do with campaign finance reform. The under-30 crowd identified with him and voted heavily for him. And what has he done to reward that commitment? He is attempting to saddle them with a huge tax increase to cover his health insurance plan.

Most people in this age group carry health insurance. But approximately 18 million do not, because they have made a decision that they would rather spend their money elsewhere. They realize that they have very little need for health care, so they spend their money on other priorities or save it for a down payment on their first home. I did the same thing when I was their age. When I visited a doctor, I wrote a check.

Mr. Obama, Senator Baucus and Nancy Pelosi do not want to give them that choice. They have targeted this group to fund the Democrats’ plans. They have decided that these young folks should pay for the older Americans who actually use most of the health care. It is an easy group to pick on, and no one really believes they will show up at the polls in 2010 without Obama on the ballot.

I believe these young adults should carry catastrophic insurance, at which they would probably not balk, because the cost would be minimal. However, the proposals that are being floated by the Democrats would require them to purchase full-blown insurance that carries a hefty price tag. While this additional revenue would help make the health insurance scheme work, no one is considering the effects of that money being taken out of the economy from where the young adults currently spend it. In particular, nobody is giving any thought to the negative effect upon the housing market caused by the delay of entry-level home purchases because the prospective homeowners will be forced to put their money into the health care system instead of a home.

In addition to being targeted with a large part of the cost of the health insurance proposal, the Obama Administration has put another yoke around their necks. The consequences of the skyrocketing budget deficits will be thrust upon them as they reach their peak earning years, and they will also have to bear that crushing burden.

The 18-30 crowd happily went to the polls to vote for Obama. Political groups that deliver for a winning candidate usually expect benefits after the election. Unions, for example, have already received billions of dollars in federal goodies and trial lawyers have been dutifully rewarded by the absence of even a hint of malpractice reform in the health insurance legislation. The under-30 voters were seduced by Obama, but have now become his whipping boys. His most significant policy proposal is aimed directly between their eyes – and they are soon to be his biggest victims.

Young voters are quickly learning about the electoral process and how it really works. Which brings us back to the question – Were they duped or were they stupid?

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