By Louis Avallone
The President’s slogan for his 2012 campaign is “FORWARD.” Well, I’m sure he and his handlers hope that this message might invoke thoughts of progress towards a brighter tomorrow, especially for a country where so many still see America, in the spirited words of Ronald Reagan, as that “shining city upon a hill, whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.”
Well, my friends, “FORWARD” means something entirely different to many of us who recognize the constitutional dilution and economic morass that this administration has foisted upon freedom-loving people everywhere. If the past is any indication of the future, moving “FORWARD” with this administration’s policies means rolling “FORWARD” alright, but it’s like riding in a car, going down a hill, with no brakes, no seat belts, and no steering wheel: It’s irresponsible and insane, but most importantly, people are going to get hurt, no doubt.
And they already have. Unemployment continues to rise. In fact, just last week, 386,000 people filed for first-time unemployment benefits, which is up 34,000 from the previous week. The number of people who have given up looking for work is at record numbers – 86 million. There are more people on food stamps than ever before in our country’s history – and federal spending in this area of the budget has more than doubled to $75 billion since 2008. And now Ernest & Young just published a study last week that estimated the economy will lose an additional 710,000 jobs, plus after-tax wages are expected to fall for workers, if the currently planned tax increases occur in 2013, which are mainly the Bush tax rates expiring, the Obamacare expansion of the Medicare tax, and increases on investment.
These are sobering statistics that many Americans will consider thoughtfully when they go to the polls this November (but some won’t at all). With persistent federal budget deficits, rising national debt, the impending bankruptcy of Social Security and Medicare, not to mention rising unemployment, Mitt Romney’s campaign is logically centered on his business experience. “I spent my life in the private sector, not in government,” he said during a debate last year, “I only spent four years as a governor. I didn’t inhale. I’m a business guy.” And some say you need to be just that kind of guy, inasmuch as the President oversees annual federal government spending of almost $3.8 billion.
Perhaps the dominant theme of the 2012 presidential campaign is shaping up to be, in fact, “it’s the economy, stupid,” as so infamously proclaimed by Bill Clinton’s campaign team in 1992. But 20 years later, I’d suggest to you, my friend, that “it’s not just the economy” this time, and if Mitt Romney doesn’t get that, then President Obama’s re-election is almost assured.
Why? Well, consider for moment that the strength of the economy is not equally as important to all people. This was true, of course, even in 1992, when the Clinton campaign colorfully reminded us that the election was about the economy. However, today, the disparity of the economy’s importance among voters is significantly different than it was in 1992. In fact, dependence on government – from housing, to health and welfare, to retirement and to education – has more than doubled since 1992.
Housing assistance from the federal government is almost $60 billion today, which is double the expenditures in 1992. Medicare and Medicare costs are almost triple the costs from 1992 – today they top $408 billion. Welfare and low-income heath care assistance by the federal government is over $1 trillion today, representing a 250% rise since 1992.
Most importantly though, the federal government spends today, more per recipient, for all federal assistance, than the per capita disposable income of all Americans, even though 50% of those recipients of federal assistance do not pay any income taxes (compared to only 30% in 1992).
There are 91 million Americans dependent on government, which is more than a 12% increase since 1992, which is either a cause, or effect, of a labor force that is now at its smallest size since the 1980s.
Unlike 1992, this election must not be about the economy alone – and the Obama campaign gets that. In fact, a senior campaign official explained it this way: “The average American does not view the economy through the prism of GDP or unemployment rates or even monthly jobs numbers.”
Well, I hope he’s wrong. It was Benjamin Franklin that said, “When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.” You see, “it’s not just the economy, stupid,” because the economy is not equally as important to all people, and the disparity of its importance, among Americans, seems to be growing each year, as government dependence rises.
This doesn’t mean that all folks on government assistance, or those who pay little or no taxes, are not the same as you and me, or do not desire to improve their lot in life through hard work, nor does it suggest that they are not equally troubled by a growing sense of entitlement in our nation, which is incompatible with self-governance; nor does it infer that these same Americans don’t recognize the lessons of history, and the countless nations who have collapsed under the weight of such waste and inefficiency.
What this does mean is the Obama team feels there are fewer of us, this time around, who believe in such principles, and if the 2012 election is indeed about “the economy, stupid,” then there simply won’t be enough dunce caps to go around.