We’ve Gone Soft

Obama to an audience in Florida:

This is a great great country that had gotten a little soft and we didn’t have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades,” Mr. Obama said in response to a question about the country’s economic future. “We need to get back on track.”

We’ve grown soft? I direct your attention to the following:

Activist the Rev. Jesse Jackson and U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., led about 200 marchers at the state’s Detroit offices Thursday in a protest against a new law that will kick thousands of residents off welfare.

Starting Saturday, cash assistance benefits will end for about 41,000 Michiganders, including an estimated 29,000 children.

They’re going to lose their cash assistance. After four years.

Amid the singing of “We shall overcome”, these people protested that four years of this form of welfare wasn’t enough. Let me be clear, it’s not as if these folks are being left out in the cold:

Snyder said the state will offer exemptions to the limit for those with a disability who can’t work, those who care for a disabled spouse or child and those who are 65 or older and don’t qualify for Social Security benefits or receive very low benefits. Some recipients who are the victims of domestic violence also may be temporarily exempted.

“We are returning cash assistance to its original intent as a transitional program to help families while they work toward self-sufficiency,” Snyder said in a statement. He noted that the state still will help the poor by offering food stamps, health care coverage through Medicaid, child care and emergency services.

Let’s not forget housing vouchers, programs aimed at helping people with their utility bills, free cell phones, and the free lunch program (which includes breakfast, lunch, and snacks).

Yet, kids “are going to starve”. Why? If they go to school, they’ll get two meals and a snack.

What is being limited to four years, is TANF, which is short for “TEMPORARY Assistance for Needy Families.” Temporaray. Four years isn’t really “temporary.”

In 1996, the federal government took similar steps to reform welfare by creating the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in place of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). Whereas the average stay on AFDC was 13 years, TANF inserted a five-year time limit for able-bodied recipients and also required that individuals work or look for work.

At first, the reform showed promise, but …

Unfortunately, some of TANF’s success has been eroded. Over the years, Senate Democrats have blocked reauthorization of the reform law, and states have used loopholes to evade work provisions. Beyond this, TANF is only one part of a behemoth federal welfare system that is now composed of over 70 different programs. Today, total welfare spending edges near $1 trillion annually, a 13-fold increase since the War on Poverty began in the 1960s.

But, we’ve gone soft. Jonah Goldberg:

Interesting perspective. I wonder where America could have lost its competitive edge. It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with a government that blows billions on green energy boondoggles while making it harder to drill for oil while trying to make electricity rates “skyrocket.” It couldn’t have to do with extending unemployment benefits to 99 weeks (and rising), or to bailouts[.]

Or the social safety nets that don’t give a hand up, but instead promotes government dependence.

But the “we’ve gone soft” line could simply be another one of Obama’s “stories”:

It turns out [Obama] too is obsessed with The Narrative. Mr. Suskind asked him why his team had difficulty creating a policy to deal with unemployment. Mr. Obama said some of it was due to circumstances, some to the complexity of the problem. Then he added: “We didn’t have a clean story that we wanted to tell against which we would measure various actions.” Huh? It wasn’t “clean,” he explained, because “what was required to save the economy might not always match up with what would make for a good story.”

Throughout the interview the president seems preoccupied with “shaping a story for the American people.” He says: “The irony is, the reason I was in this office is because I told a story to the American people.” But, he confesses, “that narrative thread we just lost” in his first years.

Then he asks, “What’s the particular requirement of the president that no one else can do?” He answers: “What the president can do, that nobody else can do, is tell a story to the American people” about where we are as a nation and should be.

Tell a story to the American people? That’s your job? Not adopting good policies? Not defending the nation? Storytelling?

The interview reflects the weird inability of so many in political leadership now to acknowledge the role in life of . . . reality.

So, Obama’s job is to tell us a story? We’re being led by this man? Someone hold me.

It reflects a disdain for the American people—they need their little stories—and it springs from an inability to understand the Reagan era. Democrats looked at him and the speeches and the crowds and balloons and thought: “I get it, politics is now all show biz.” Because they couldn’t take Reagan’s views and philosophy seriously, they couldn’t believe anyone else could, either. So they explained him through a story. The story was that Reagan’s success was due not to decisions and their outcomes but to a narrative. The narrative was “Morning in America”: Everything’s good, everyone’s happy.

Democrats vowed to create their own narratives, their own stories.

Here’s the problem: There is no story. At the end of the day, there is only reality. Things work or they don’t. When they work, people notice, and say it.

This is a frightening insight into the current democratic leadership.


What’s “gone soft” and lost its “competitive edge” is American government, which can’t see a pile of money it doesn’t wish to expropriate in order to feed its “spread-the-wealth-around” socialist appetite and which sees government as the adversary rather than the enabler of business. That’s the rotten softness we have to worry about.

So please, Barack, don’t tell us that America has “gone soft” or “lost its competitive edge” when it’s you and your policies that are as soft and edgeless as a freshly shucked oyster. Once again, you have demonstrated beyond cavil that you have no idea what you are talking about. If you and your army of tax-hungry, regulation-spewing bureaucrats would just get out of the way, you’d see in a matter of months what the most innovative and productive economy in the world could do with respect to jobs here at home. But job creation is yet another thing you haven’t a clue about.

Word. It’s not WE who have gone soft. Crony capitalism and welfare dependence and government regulation/over-reach are all impediments. YOU are standing in our way, Mr. President.

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