Storified by Brian Empric· Tue, Jan 22 2013 19:06:15
In his inaugural address yesterday, Obama continued tointentionally ignore our urgent debt and deficit problems. I guess we will have to wait until the Stateof the Union in three weeks for specifics, but raising taxes on the wealthywon’t be enough, and his priorities are likely to lead to more spending, andsubsequently more debt.
He spoke yesterday as if the debate about the role ofgovernment has been settled, and anyone who believes in individual initiativeand limited government has lost.
“TheUnited States is now $16.4 trillion in debt. We’ve accumulated more than athird of that total since Obama’s first inaugural four years ago, an additional$20,000-plus per citizen during the Obama presidency. Even using White Houseprojections, we’ll have more than $21 trillion by the time his second termends.
“Obama doesn’t care.”
What hard choices does Obama propose to reduce the costof health care and the size of our deficit?
“Strikingly,Obama’s allusions to the nation’s asphyxiating debt and the entitlementprograms driving it accounted for just 94 words of the 2,142 he spoke in hissecond inaugural – less than five percent of the speech. (Obama’s section onclimate change was twice as long.)”
Twenty-eightyears ago, “Ronald Reagan used his second inaugural to call for a freeze infederal spending and balanced budget. Reagan lamented ‘almost unbroken 50 yearsof deficit spending’ which brought the nation to ‘a turning point, a moment forhard decisions…If not us, who? And if not now, when?’”
Richard Vedder (professor emeritus of economics at Ohio University and adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute @AEI) writes:“From the mid-17th century to the late 20th century, the American economy grew roughly 3.5% a year. That growth rate has since declined significantly. When the final figures are in for 2012, the annual rate of real output growth for the first dozen years of this century is likely to be about 1.81%.”Why?“Americans aren't working as much today… due mainly to a variety of public policies that have reduced the incentives to be employed.”Food stamps
o “If the government provides food, then the imperative to work is severely reduced.”
o “From 2000 to 2007, the number of beneficiaries rose from 17.1 million to 26.3 million, according to the Department of Agriculture. That number has leaped to 47.5 million in October 2012.”
o “In a period of falling unemployment and rising output, the number of food-stamp recipients grew nearly 10,000 a day. Congress should find out why.”Social Security disability payments
o “Barely three million Americans received work-related disability checks from Social Security in 1990, a number that had changed only modestly in the preceding decade or two. Since then, the number of people drawing disability checks has soared, passing five million by 2000, 6.5 million by 2005, and rising to nearly 8.6 million today.”Pell grants
o “In 2000, fewer than 3.9 million young men and women received Pell Grant awards to attend college. The number rose one-third, to 5.2 million by 2005, and increased a million more by 2008. In the next three years, however, the number grew over 50%, to an estimated 9.7 million… The result is fewer people in the work force.”Extended unemployment benefits
o “…if you pay people to stay at home, many will do so rather than seek employment or accept jobs where the pay doesn't meet their expectations.”