A leader's job is to keep hope alive. But as more and more Americans slip into prolonged unemployment and struggle to sustain their own confidence, hope is giving way to lower expectations. Instead or reinforcing entrepreneurism, personal resourcefulness, and self-reliance, more and more are turning to government for the answers that used to come from their own efforts.
The General Social Survey, a project of the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago, found that just under 55% of Americans agreed that "people like me and my family have a good chance of improving our standard of living." That is the lowest level since the question was first asked in 1987. People are feeling trapped, not hopeful.
At the same time, the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow. A UC Berkeley study last year found that the richest 10% of Americans enjoyed more than half of the income nationwide.
President Obama's response to support the "middle class" has been to lower their share of taxes, raise taxes on the richest Americans, and find ways to transfer the cost of healthcare from the individual to businesses and wealthy Americans. But his approach has seen the middle and working classes decrease, poverty and government dependence increase, and the gap between the rich and the poor widen.
Liberals have one answer--Give more refunds, forgive debt, provide more food stamps, give...give...give. But every dollar taken from the rich is one more dollar not invested in the private sector that could be creating new companies and more jobs. Instead of creating a vibrant private sector that creates jobs, he's seen companies rely on technological innovation, part-time employees, and relocation to states that reward business success.
States are the laboratory for what works. According to the American Legislative Exchange Council, nine of the ten states with the greatest economic outlook have a Republican governor and Republican-controlled legislature. Virginia is the only blue state to break into the top ten largely due to the federal contracts that flow into their state from Washington. Eight of the report's lowest-ranking states are governed by Democrats.
The coming of the Affordable Healthcare Act is just making matters worse! In response to Obamacare, many companies are having to reduce coverage and increase co-pays for employees, Some are canceling coverage for spouses, retirees and part-timers. Many small companies, the primary engine for job creation, have joined the "49er Club," companies that limit their employees to 49 to avoid having to provide the mandatory coverage. Even Obama supporter Warren Buffet has agreed that it should be dumped and suggests starting over.
A recent visit to the Reagan Presidential Library reinforced the contrast between Presidents Reagan and Obama. One wanted to reward economic growth, the other wants to tax and regulate it. One wanted to measure success by the number of Americans who no longer needed government help, and the other wants to create more government programs to "help."
Ronald Reagan, former union leader and a Democrat until 1962, shared his secret of success at the 1992 Republican Convention: "I appealed to their best hopes, not their worst fears. To their confidence not their doubts." President Obama seems convinced that today's Americans can't make it without government support.
Reagan loved to ask, "Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?" As the "Affordable" Care Act comes into force, keep asking yourself that question. Like unions, big Democratic contributors, and politicians, you may soon be asking for waivers! But if you're not a politician or a big contributor, don't expect any relief.
If Republicans are ineffective in defunding Obamacare, you'll experience what happens when Obama's "transformation" takes full effect. Life is the best trainer and may very well be the best way to get America to reclaim our identity as the most exceptional free-enterprise country in the history of the world. It's time for a leader who actually believes in us!