Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Measuring the Damage

After an initial burst of enthusiasm, many African-American voters have become disenchanted with Obama. The numbers of Black voters who cast their ballots for Obama in 2012 were significantly smaller than those who did so in 2008.

While real income and net worth fell for all American families after January 2009, the decline was steeper for African-American families. Unemployment among Blacks rose faster, peaked at higher rates, and stayed longer, than among other demographic groups.

Leaders in the African-American community, like Deneen Borelli, began to critically examine Obama's policies. She understood that the permanent poverty which Obama inflicted on inner-city Black families would keep them dependent on government programs; they would not have a chance at finding meaningful jobs, because Obama had damaged the national economy to the extent that job creation was at a minimum, and the few jobs being created were low-wage. Obama removed employment opportunities from African-Americans, forcing them into a lifestyle of dependency on government programs, a lifestyle which Borelli calls a "plantation" of government programs. As far back as Obama's first few months in office, she was already noticing the alarming trends. She wrote:

Early into his presidency, Obama racked up some historic spending figures. There was the $3.9 trillion in spending for 2009 and similar projections for 2010, but the historic levels of national debt were the scarier numbers: Just three months into his term, the nation faced levels not seen before - a staggering $11 trillion. That's almost half a trillion more than on the day he took office. The projections from his budget were even greater for 2012 (the year he hopes to get reelected!): The country, under President Obama, will face $16.2 trillion dollars in debt. Who is going to pay that bill? Numbers like that don't free Americans. Ironically, numbers like that saddle our children with bills to pay, bills that will keep the underclass on the government plantation for years to come.

Later in Obama's presidency, when the harm done to the economy was greater still and detectable by almost all metrics, Borelli reflected the growing discomfort of African-American voters. The "progressive" economic policies were creating ever-higher levels of unemployment, especially among young Black males. Borelli wrote:

Obama is extremely transparent with his plan for the United States. There is no reading between the lines, there is no hidden agenda, and there is no mystery. His words and actions align perfectly with his quest to fundamentally transform America into an entitlement society.

While Borelli, and other African-American leaders like Alan Keyes, certainly articulate some valid concerns about Obama, alternative analyses of the situation are possible. Are Obama's critics oversimplifying the matter? In Obama's defense, one may note that he does not (yet) have absolute power. Under the nation's tripartite government, the Congress and the Supreme Court have a responsibility to act as a check on the executive branch, and are complicit if they do not. As Alan Keyes wrote in January 2014:

Lately, no matter how much their constituents plead with them, the elitist faction leaders in Congress have made it clear that they aren’t listening, on just about every vital issue.

Congress and the Supreme Court share in the guilt, because they have not moved to stop Obama's attack on the American economy. Obama alone cannot be blamed; without their acquiescence, the "progressivist" dismantling of economic opportunities for Americans of all classes could not have occurred.

Why have the legislative and judicial branches not protected ordinary American citizens from Obama's economic tyranny? Various possible causes present themselves: some members may agree ideologically with Obama; others may have fallen victim to his bribery or extortion schemes; some may submit to the directives given by the leaders of their political parties; some may lack a clear understanding of the matters. The data are not enough to permit a final answer in each case about these motives.

Perhaps it is too simplistic, then, to blame Obama alone for the misery inflicted upon American families, and disproportionately upon African-American families. The other two branches of government failed to defend the nation and its Constitution, and so share the guilt. Borelli writes:

Under Obama's leadership, our debt has exploded, family incomes are down, fewer Americans are working, and more of us are in poverty. Then there is the government abuse of existing programs. Internal Revenue Service employees have bullied tea party organizations; General Services Administration employees have partied on the taxpayers' dime; senior EPA employees, including its former head, have used secret email accounts to communicate with special interest groups; and the NSA is spying on civilians.

One may not blindly assume that those who voted for Obama, those who actively campaigned for Obama, and even some of those who work or worked in his administration actively desired to see harm done to American families. Certainly, many of them worked with the best of motives; there were many who thought that Obama could do good, and desired to do good, for the country. Surely, many who voted for Obama believed that he could improve the economy, and that he wanted to improve the economy. Such people may not be held guilty; they were deceived. Borelli continues:

Rather than expanding the American entitlement state, President Obama should be working to advance policies that would empower lower- and middle-income households to thrive independently of government. More economic freedom would benefit all individuals and families, not just those in privileged communities. Less government means more power for people to think freely and make economic choices on their own terms.

Instead of allowing the economy to function freely and create both opportunities and wealth, the administration has inflicted the twin evils of taxation and regulation upon the people, and has caused the most misery among those who most needed opportunity: the African-American voters. Those who voted for "hope and change" have been betrayed.