Almost 18 years ago, Bill Clinton stood before a joint session of Congress and declared that the “era of big government is over.” This statement was seen as Clinton’s attempt to shift his outdated Democratic party from the New Deal into the modern world. With the recent rise of the tea party, the majority of Americans believe that less government is more. Recent polling suggests people favor a smaller government which provides fewer services over a gigantic government that does more.
President Obama, however, hasn’t gotten the memo.
It’s true that government cannot prevent all the downsides of the technological change and global competition that are out there right now — and some of those forces are also some of the things that are helping us grow. And it’s also true that some programs in the past, like welfare before it was reformed, were sometimes poorly designed, created disincentives to work, but we’ve also seen how government action time and again can make an enormous difference in increasing opportunity and bolstering ladders into the middle class. Investments in education, laws establishing collective bargaining and a minimum wage — these all contributed to rising standards of living for massive numbers of Americans.
As Chris Cillizza summed up Obama’s speech, “Not all government is good. But not all government is bad either.”
Obama also said, “Government can’t stand on the sidelines…We need to set aside the belief that government can’t do anything about inequality.”
This is where the president doesn’t get it.
As the co-founder of Tea Party Patriots and now the president of Citizens for Self-Governance, I can tell you that Americans aren’t sitting around saying, “Gosh, if only government would do something about inequality.”
In fact, in Obama’s America, the government causes inequality.
The federal government has poured hundreds of billions of dollars into “safety net” programs that succeed mainly in trapping people in low-wage existences. Between a record expansion of food stamps and disability rolls, the Obama administration has been very good at creating an underclass.
At the same time, the dramatic expansion of the regulatory state means it is harder than ever to start or maintain a business. Small businesses are strangled before they’re born.
Of course, one can’t forget Obamacare, the greatest engine of part-time job creation in American history.
All of this adds up to declining wages for millions of Americans. The median wages of men and women are down 3.2 percent since Obama took office.
Not everyone is suffering, of course. The American taxpayer bailed out the UAW, and crony capitalists have enjoyed a field day at our expense—so long as they’re in the preferred kind of industry.
In Obama’s America, the era of big government is back, with a vengeance.
And all but a select few pay the price.