If you want to get a good glimpse of what America will look like if President Obama continues to push his “change” agenda, take a close look at Chicago. But brace yourself: it is not a pretty picture.
Chicago, as we all know, is Mr. Obama’s home and the place where he served as a community organizer, a state legislator, and a US Senator. Obama championed a variety of jobs creation programs, advanced ideas to reduce crime, and sought earmarks totaling some $800 million dollars to boost the Chicago economy. By all accounts, he was energetic, determined, and successful pushing these programs.
But while many, including Obama, have focused almost exclusively on Mr. Obama’s noble intentions, few have focused on the results. Which of Obama’s efforts in Chicago delivered the promised benefits? None.
Chicago is a city in crisis. Crime rates have surged despite the many, Obama-led, community-building efforts. The number of Americans murdered in Chicago this year is about the same number of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past year. Two State Senators have argued that Chicago’s crime problem is too big for locals to solve and have called for deployment of the National Guard.
Nor is crime the only problem in the windy city. Unemployment is at11.2%, 1.3 points above the national average. Worse yet, minorities are particularly hit by a failing Chicago economy that continues to shed jobs as the unemployment rates among minorities top 20%.
Alas, the index of misery in Chicago earned the city the distinction as the third most miserable city in America, as high taxes cripple job growth, innovation, and entrepreneurialism.
None of Mr. Obama’s efforts as a community organizer, state legislator or U.S. Senator did anything to reduce Chicago’s misery index. It’s possible that the opposite may be true. Remember: as a U.S. Senator, Mr. Obama averaged nearly $286.9 million per year in earmark requests, which he justified as ways to promote job growth, reduce crime, and improve schools. Yet, Chicago’s misery worsened.
Is it possible that Mr. Obama made Chicago’s problems worse by championing a philosophy of greater federal support, avoidance of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility? Was the nearly $1 billion of Obama earmarks spent, not on investments that might have helped spark economic activity, but instead directed to dubious causes aimed at rewarding key supporters such as the Unions? Did Obama help choke off economic vitality and entrepreneurialism by acquiescing to high taxes and growing regulatory burdens?
I think so.
Mr. Obama did not set Chicago on a path of ruin single-handedly. He had lots of help. Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat Party Whip, White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. Valerie Jarrett and other Chicagoans occupy key positions in the Which House. Like Obama, Durbin and Emanuel have, for years, directed funding, both directly and indirectly to Illinois and to Chicago for assistance, entitlement programs, pork projects and perks. And yet, the problems in Chicago only grew.
Here is the scary part: now they are in Washington, working hard to duplicate on a national scale the failures they achieved in Chicago.
None of the powerful Chicago politicians now in Washington have practical experience creating jobs. All of them have a mistaken belief that the federal government can generate job growth by turning the spigot of taxpayer money in the intended direction. They also believe that ever larger and more intrusive government and regulatory regimes added to every level of American life are a prescription for economic growth. This same, failed philosophy that guided their actions in Chicago now guides their efforts in Washington.
Obama’s Chicago experiment has been a dismal failure.
Why should Americans trust Obama and allow him to experiment with the future of the country and our children? Obama’s vision is wrong. His favored solutions do not work, and Obama’s path only leads to greater misery. Americans deserve better, and so does Chicago.
If Team Obama wanted to find out why their earlier programs failed and led to an exodus of jobs, they could talk to companies that have relocated to more business friendly states such as Texas. In Texas, Team Obama would find a lower tax rate, a healthy climate for entrepreneurial growth, and pro-growth policies that encourage innovation and new investment.
Team Obama might even want to take a trip and talk to the guy that first put Texas on the path of long-term growth, fiscal solvency, and enhanced competitiveness. The roads to Crawford are well marked, so he should not be hard to find.