Obama responsible for middle class shrinkage
Barack Obama literally can't stop talking about the American middle class. During his unofficial 2012 campaign kickoff speech in Kansas earlier this month, he used the term "middle class" eighteen times as he derided those of us who still believe in free market principles like individual ingenuity and self-sufficiency.
"We simply cannot return to this brand of 'you're on your own' economics if we're serious about rebuilding the middle class in this country," Obama said, passionately defending the doctrines of government dependence and class warfare that have been the hallmarks of his regime.
But beyond the not-so-thinly-disguised "us-against-us" rhetoric emanating from his teleprompter, what has Obama actually accomplished on behalf of the middle class?
Not much. Despite his administration's unprecedented investment in the expansion of an already obscenely-big government, the middle class has wound up paying for - not benefiting from - Obama's policies. In fact the numbers would indicate that Obama's stated intention to "spread the wealth around" has actually produced a shrinking middle class - one with less income and more debt.
According to census data released earlier this month, a total of 97.3 million Americans are currently classified as low income. Meanwhile an additional 49.1 million Americans are currently living below the poverty line. Add those numbers together and you've got 146.4 million people - or 48 percent of the country - who are currently either poor or low income, an increase of 4 million people from 2009.
Within that total an estimated 44 million people - or 15 percent of the population - are currently receiving food stamps, a 69 percent increase from 2007. More than 50 million people - or 17 percent of the population - are currently on Medicaid, with Obama's socialized medicine plan scheduled to add another 14 million to government health care rolls beginning in 2014.
Meanwhile an estimated 16 million people - or 15.6 percent of the nation's available work force - are currently underemployed, while more than 6.2 million people have been out of work for longer than six months.
Want more evidence of the "great middle class betrayal?"
Despite a massive federal bailout of the housing industry, 10.7 million American mortgages were underwater as of September 2011 - meaning the debt on these properties exceeds their fair market value. Another 2.4 million borrowers had an equity stake of less than 5 percent in their homes.
Also, bear in mind that these dismal stats don't include the nearly four million U.S. homes that have already been foreclosed on since the recession began in December 2007.
While Obama likes to blame his predecessor for the ongoing sluggishness of the economy, it's important to remember that he wholeheartedly endorsed the interventionist policies championed by George W. Bush in response to the initial economic downtown. In fact he put Bush's approach on steroids - dramatically upping the federal government's Keynesian ante in an attempt to "stimulate" the economy.
Obviously even a cursory look at the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" revealed that the only thing it intended to "stimulate" was the growth of government - as evidenced by the fact that it created more than 30 new government programs and expanded more than 70 existing ones.
Not only that, Obama's bailout effectively repealed America's welfare reform laws - putting states back on the old "bounty system" that incentivized them to add names to the welfare rolls. And since then, Obama has successfully pushed for the perpetual extension of unemployment benefits - basically incentivizing workers to remain on their sofas instead of on the job site.
Who's paying for this dramatic expansion of the dependency culture? You guessed it - the "middle class," the very people Obama claims to be fighting for.
Howard Rich is chairman of Americans for Limited Government.