Recently, I have noticed that when the President speaks of the economy, the focus is on how the federal government can help and increase the “middle class.”
Towards that end, for example, the President advocated legislation such as the “Affordable Health Care Act” (ACA), and free community college tuition.
Providing economic relief in the form of subsidies, or mandating operational behaviors of colleges or financial institutions, on the surface, seems like a helpful idea because it demands less money from the citizen utilizing the service and thereby saves them money.
I suppose such acts are advocated because there is a recognition that many Americans who identify themselves as middle class find it difficult to meet the economic demands of rising healthcare costs and college tuition.
However, for at least three reasons, I do question this strategy of using the federal government to legislate or subsidize services intended for the middle class.
In the first place, is it the role of the federal government to manage and support the desired lifestyles of its citizenry?
I have always held the firm belief that one of the cornerstones of our nation was our freedom to make choices that would determine our own destiny. However, when a governmental entity becomes so large that it is able to insulate itself from accountability and seeks primarily to perpetuate itself and exercise more power over the lives of citizens, it has become too big.
Currently, our federal government spends over four trillion dollars a year—well over 40 percent more than what it generates in taxes, and this money is technically not allocated for improving our roads, bridges, and schools. Such a government is too big.
Yet, rather than simply promoting policies that purportedly help the poor through various government programs, it now seeks to subsume the “middle-class” as a “beneficiary” of its economic policies.
My second reason for questioning governmental legislation in the lives of the “middle class” has to do with the use of the term “middle class.”
For me, such political use of the term “class” conjures up images of socialist and communist countries where citizens were predestined to live in the “class” to which they were born, regardless of their talents. If you were born poor, you lived and died poor, and vice versa.
However, in America we have socio-economic mobility to move from being poor, to moderately wealthy, to rich either in a blink of an eye or over time, based on wise economic decisions. We are not trapped in an economic class, as much of President Obama’s economic policies seem to presuppose.
The final reason I oppose Obamanomics is because we have continually seen that when the federal government interjects itself to “help” a situation, there is an incredible amount of money thrown at the issue, but the situation is never made more cost-effective for everyday citizens, nor is the issue ever really solved. In fact, it is often exacerbated.
While it may seem intuitive that subsidies would help the “middle class,” the cost inevitably winds up being greater than advertised because of layers of bureaucracy.
This can be clearly seen in the implementation of President Obama’s healthcare law, which we were told repeatedly that the average family would save $2500 per year if ACA was passed. However, I do not know a single person who experienced a decrease in their insurance costs. Instead, just about everyone, from government employees to small businesses, have experienced increased costs ranging from 30-40 percent. In fact, my family’s premium increased over 90 percent.
As a compassionate nation, I suppose many citizens believe that it is just for the federal government to provide for the poor of our nation, but when it advocates to provide for the “middle class” we should all be wary.
For, in a nation of free citizens, why should we depend on the government for essential needs like healthcare and education?
Creating such a culture of dependency, I find to be the most tragic consequence of all because it diminishes the fierce sense of independence that our country was founded upon and expresses a lack of faith in the potential of citizens to make wise choices.
Rather than promoting economic policies that increase greater portions of our population to be dependent on government subsidies, I wish President Obama would minimize bureaucratic requirements that hinder businesses, particularly small businesses like my own, and express faith that citizens do not always need to turn to government to succeed.
This would have a profound impact on increasing the economic stability of not just “middle class” Americans, but all hard-working Americans.
[Bonnie B. Willis is co-founder of The Willis Group, LLC, a Learning, Development, and Life Coaching company here in Fayette County and lives in Fayetteville along with her husband and their five children.]