So, the Obama campaign has just released a step by step account of how great the president’s policies are for a girl, from cradle to grave. There’s a problem though. This “Life of Julia” not only looks at Obama’s policies through rose-colored glasses, but it looks at them through rose-colored glasses while hallucinating.
Let’s start at the beginning. The website claims that programs like Head Start will help Julia prepare for kindergarten. Well, first off, this is not Obama’s program. It was begun under President Johnson in 1964 and expanded in 1981 under President Carter. Now more to the point, the Department of Health and Human Services found in 2011 that, “Though the program had a ‘positive impact’ on children’s experiences through the preschool years, ‘advantages children gained during their Head Start and age 4 years yielded only a few statistically significant differences in outcomes at the end of 1st grade for the sample as a whole. Impacts at the end of kindergarten were scattered…’”. The website says that Romney would cut programs like this by 20%. Good! This is the kind of program that should be cut. It makes minimal difference in the short-term and negligible difference in the long-term. In fact, I’ll go further and say that it should be eliminate altogether.
Next, we get to age 17. The campaign claims that “the new college- and career-ready standards” that Julia’s high school would have as a part of the Race to the Top program provide her “the classes she needs to do well”. So, after the debacle of No Child Left Behind, we are still sticking with federally mandated “standards” as the key to success? Excuse me if I do not buy it. The campaign says, “(t)he Romney/Ryan budget would cut funding for public education to pay for tax cuts for millionaires”. Well, actually, they are paying for across the board tax cuts that stimulated growth until over-spending and the government-facilitated housing bubble reversed said growth. Also, public education is a local and state issue. To send federal money to it (which will always have strings attached by the nature of politics and government grants) is to perpetuate the same problems we have seen in the school systems for years.
Then at age 18, Julia is helped through college by the American Opportunity Tax Credit. Now, the basis that the Obama campaign has for saying that Romney would let this expire is his pledge to roll back the failed stimulus package (which this was a part of). What the president’s campaign fails to mention is the accompanying elimination on long-term capital gains taxes for those making under $200,000. This calculated omission aside, I want to critique this Tax Credit on one thing. It was used by the president and by Congress as a tool in the War on Drugs. If you are convicted on drug charges, you are ineligible for the tax credit, but if you are a murderer or a rapist, by all means receive the tax credit.
Now, Julia is 22. She has undergone surgery, and because of Obamacare, she is still able to be on her parents’ insurance plan. How could anyone critique this?!? Well, it’s fairly simple actually. By mandating that all insurance companies allow this, the federal government increases costs across the board, where they were previously just on those who chose to keep their children on their plans. If instead of going with more government intervention in reform, the government had freed up the market, the option to stay on would have arisen to the extent that would meet demand, and those who did not make that choice would not bear the cost of higher premiums caused by this mandate. Also, freeing up the market to compete across state lines would have lowered these costs, even for plans that keep children on their parents’ plans.
Now, at age 23, Julia is able to stand up for her “right” to equal pay. Please! First off, rights do not come from statutes, so to call equal pay acts “rights-giving” is absurd. Now, we get to the question of whether the government should be able to decide the pay of employees working in private firms. There is absolutely no legal basis for this in the Constitution, and simply the idea that the federal government could micromanage individual firms is quite frightening. I hope that Romney does not come out in favor of it (since as the President points out, he has not yet given a position), because it is just another example of how a Progressive cause looks good on paper until you look at the unintended consequences.
At 25, the President claims that his nationalization of the student loan sector makes “[Julia’s] student loans… more manageable”. However, let’s say that Julia graduates into Obama’s economy, with its 8.4% unemployment, 18.3% underemployed (These are Gallup estimates to include underemployment. Bureau of Labor Stats has unemployment at 8.1%). Now she is out of a job, and like so many others is so disaffected that she drops out of the labor market. She cannot get away from these debts by filing for bankruptcy like she could when banks ran the student loans business. Now, the IRS will garnish her wages if she ever were to get a job. In short, I would rather have a private bank after me for money, than the IRS (which could potentially throw you in prison)… Call me crazy.
Now, Julia is 27, and she is benefitting from having birth control covered by her insurance. However, because this was mandated for all insurance plans, Julia did not have the choice to not pay for birth control since it is paid for in her premiums. She is unable to choose to put that money elsewhere. In a free market, birth control coverage certainly would have arisen as an option for those who chose it (as Julia might or might not have done). What also would have been an option is a cheaper emergency-only plan that would allow her more income. (And oh, by the way, if she does not buy insurance at the increased cost, she gets fined).
I’m going to skip to when Julia is 42 to avoid the redundancy of the two in between (which deal more with education and healthcare). She has started up a small business. Supposedly, small-business loans help get her business off the ground and she is able to employ people and grow the economy. In reality, however, Cronyism in the federal government has created regulatory environments hostile to small businesses, tax policies that favor big corporate donors, and a patent system that makes small business innovation nearly impossible. So if she were truly able to do this, she would be the exception today.
Now at 65, Obama claims that his preservation of the status quo in Medicare has guaranteed her a high level of care. However, by refusing reforms favored by Romney and Rep. Ryan, Medicare reimbursements are miniscule, and few doctors still accept Medicare patients. Those who do have huge waiting list (since to make even the slightest profit, they must see patients in extraordinary volume).
Then at 67, Julia retires, however, assuming that she began as a part of the generation currently in college, she is sad to find that the Social Security “Lock Box” was looted by big spending politicians like President Obama, and she receives just a pittance compared to what she put into the system, if she receives anything at all.