The 70-Million-Check Constituency
Obama and the left have a massive constituency of tens of millions who do not comprehend the true meaning of money, only caring that the government check is in the mail.
In an interview with CBS anchor Scott Pelley last week, President Obama was asked if he could guarantee that Social Security checks would go out in August if House Republicans refused to raise the national debt ceiling.
Obama replied, "Well, this is not just a matter of Social Security checks. These are veterans' checks; these are folks on disability and their checks. There are about 70 million checks that go out... I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd, if we haven't resolved this issue."
Seventy million government checks! In a population of 309 million, almost 23% of the population is receiving some kind of check from the federal government.
I have bad news for conservatives who think Obama is leading the nation down the path to socialism: the barn door is open and the cows are long gone. Obama is not leading the nation to socialism; we are a socialist nation and have been for some time. Conservatives who think Obama is a Marxist and an anti-capitalist radical are surely correct, but what is also surely correct is that he represents an actual constituency of tens of millions who care about nothing other than the fact that the government check is in the mail. This is a serious problem for conservative Republicans and Tea Partiers seeking to cut the federal budget and restore fiscal sanity.
For the left, money is not something that is earned. Money happens. It happens when you know the right people. If you are a college professor and you make the right impression at enough faculty cocktail parties, one day you will be tenured and named department chair and money happens. If you are an "activist" or a "community organizer" and you hobnob with people from the right foundations, money happens. If you are a Hollywood actress, you spend a couple of hours a day on the set pretending you are a prostitute or a murderer and then go snort cocaine all night, and money happens.
For the left's welfare-state constituencies, money happens when you fill out the right forms (or get an attorney to sue the government for you). Do it right and SSI, Medicaid, workers' comp, and agriculture subsidies just sorta happen. If you're an "artist" taking gay pornographic pictures and you apply for a taxpayer-funded grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, money happens. If you were born with spina bifida or you got your legs blown off in Iraq, I agree that you deserve a government check. If not, you don't deserve a nickel of anyone else's money.
Obama is a poster boy for the "money happens" mentality. Obama held one private-sector job in his entire life, which he characterized as "behind enemy lines." Obama never published anything as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. Obama never published anything as a college instructor in constitutional law. Obama was given a publisher's advance for his memoirs -- after a life of accomplishing nothing -- and immediately encountered "writer's block" and sought help. In all probability his two books are ghostwritten. Yet Obama is a multimillionaire, largely from the sales of his books. For him, money happened. Obama's wife, Michelle, made a lousy hundred grand with her Harvard Law degree as vice-president for "community relations" at a Chicago hospital. When her husband was elected U.S. Senator in 2004, the hospital coincidentally decided that she deserved a raise of $200,000. For Michelle, money happened.
It is safe to say that Barack, Michelle, Nancy Pelosi, and all the other ruling-class elites in D.C. have never swapped a bad transmission out of a pickup truck for a paycheck. They've never snaked someone else's feces out of a clogged toilet at 1 a.m. or rebuilt a diesel engine on a backhoe to make money. They never risked a half-million of their own on a small fleet of dump trucks or an auto-parts warehouse to make money. For them, money is an abstraction, something that greedy, rich "fat cats" (usually Republican, of course) stole from exploiting innocent third-worlders and noble union laborers (who are never lazy, stupid, or crooked). There's no reason why money shouldn't be taken from "the rich" by the government and given to the deserving, such as college students working on master's degrees in Queer Studies or programs designed to teach African men (not African-American men, but African men) how to use condoms. The left cannot conceive of the fact that actual people perform actual labor for money, and that economic reality dictates limits on spending.
For the left, because "money happens," there's simply no limit to the things that should be paid for by the government. If you look at the pie charts in the instruction booklet for your Form 1040, you'll see that only 22% of spending goes to "national defense and foreign affairs" and a mere two percent to "law enforcement and general government." The rest -- nearly three-quarters of the budget -- goes to retirement, disability, Medicaid, Medicare, job training, agriculture, Food Stamps, housing assistance, "community development," and so on. From school lunches to saving the snail darter to funding Planned Parenthood to anti-obesity programs to developing electric cars to farm subsidies, government funds just about everything. And it's still not enough. Enumerated powers be damned.
Republicans cannot cut government spending without losing elections, and Democrats know it. They cannot raise taxes without losing elections, either, and the Democrats know that, too. So the Republicans will cave on the debt limit and allow the government to borrow even more than the $14 trillion we're already in hock.
Ultimately this problem will not be resolved by the political class. It will be resolved by the market, when lenders believe that the government is so far in debt that it is no longer worth lending to.