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The Republican Myth of Obama’s “Entitlement Society”

Robert Reich – Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy  University of California at Berkeley.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012

One of the few things Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich agree on is that President Obama is turning America into “European-style welfare culture.”

In his standard stump speech Romney charges Obama with creating a nation of dependents. “Over the past three years Barack Obama has been replacing our merit-based society with an entitlement society.”

Gingrich calls Obama “the best food-stamp president in American history.”

What’s their evidence? Both rely on federal budget data showing direct payments to individuals shot up by almost $600 billion, a 32 percent increase, since the start of 2009.

They also point to Census data showing that 49 percent of Americans now live in homes where at least one person is collecting a federal benefit – Social Security, food stamps, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation, or subsidized housing. That’s up from 44 percent in 2008.

Finally, they trumpet Social Security Administration figures showing that the number of people on Social Security disability jumped 10 percent in Obama’s first two years in office.

They argue our economic problems stem from this sharp rise in “dependency.” Get rid of these benefits and people will work harder.

But they have cause and effect backwards. The reason for the rise in food stamps, unemployment insurance, and other safety-net programs is Americans got clobbered in 2008 with the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression. They and their families have needed whatever helping hands they could get.

If anything, America’s safety nets have been too small and shot through with holes. That’s why the number and percentage of Americans in poverty has increased dramatically over the past three years. According to a study by Northeastern University,  a third of families with young children are now in poverty.

This is the real scandal. For example, only 40 percent of the unemployed qualify for unemployment benefits because they weren’t working full time or long enough on a single job before they were canned. The unemployment system doesn’t take account of the fact that a large portion of the workforce typically works part time on several jobs, and moves from job to job.

Republicans also object to Obama’s health care law, which covers 30 million more Americans than were covered before. That law still leaves over 20 million without health insurance. They’ll get emergency care when they’re in dire straights — hospitals won’t refuse them — but we all end up paying indirectly.

Regressive Republicans pretend they’re about opportunity. In reality they’re back at what they’ve been doing for years — promoting Social Darwinism.

About tenthltr2u (1074 Articles)
A child of the 60's I often feel out of place in the world as it exist today. Too much excess, too much materialism, too few people who genuinely care or give a damn. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. Antoine de Saint-Exupery

4 Comments on The Republican Myth of Obama’s “Entitlement Society”

  1. markmcinturf // February 6, 2012 at 10:00 pm // Reply

    There’s a surprise – a professor at Berkeley is an Obama fan. Holy smokes Robert, in as much as you liberals on the coast have run California deep into the ground – do you really think there’s anyone outside of your state willing to take any of you seriously?

    I’ll give you… Obama didn’t invent the entitlement society. The Left has been re-inventing it for decades. The housing debacle in Washington started it all and Obama has just about pushed us over the edge by adding something around 5 trillion more to an already intolerable level of national debt. If you’d like to review them – there are plenty of videos available on Bush and other Republicans begging Congress to look at Fannie and Freddie with warnings of a melt down as far back as 2003 and on-going through the next 3 to 4 years. There are also videos of Barney Frank defiantly refusing to take action, saying that the GSEs were in great shape throughout that entire time line. The domino effect from the hammer falling in the housing markets has been staggering to say the least.

    No, everything that’s happened isn’t Obama’s fault – he’s just made it worse. Funny that a conservative can say that isn’t it? Funny too, I can’t find a liberal that can reciprocate. Most of the time a conservative or a Republican is the devil disguised as a racist. ** And it’s from here that the left wants to “compromise”. LOL


  2. Republicans lie and distort every time their lips or fingers move. They are a genuine threat to the Republic.


    • Yea… and Democrats like Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Frank, Schumer, Holder, Rangle, etc. set the bar for truth, justice and the American Way. LOL


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