During Joe Biden’s non-campaign announcement last week, he laid out the 2016 Democratic platform in broad strokes: more, more, more of everything the government already does. Specifically, he claimed, “We all know that 12 years of public education is not enough,” so taxpayers should pay for up to 16 years of schooling for every American (a.k.a. four years of undergraduate courses).
The obviousness of this to the vice president of the United States is a sad statement on the federal government’s role in our lives today. During the Democratic primary, it has become clear that this party exists primarily to promise more “free” stuff from the government. And this ideology is succeeding.
On Twitter, I received a sympathetic reply to my complaint about Biden’s pandering for more “free” schooling:
Well…The federal government already subsidizes monthly rent for about 5 million households through its Section 8 housing program, at a cost of $38 billion in 2014. Granted, that’s just rental assistance, not a detached home. Just wait, the feds have more to offer!
The subprime mortgage crisis that fueled the 2008 recession was a result of decades of bad federal housing policy, during which Congress and presidents of both parties encouraged risky lending and inflated home ownership rates. How did they do it? By empowering Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government-sponsored entities with implicit federal guarantees, to underwrite these risky assets. So, anyone who bought a house in the run-up to 2007 received an in-kind government handout in the form of low interest rates and minimal down payment requirements.
Want something more tangible? If you “weatherize” your home in an attempt to lower your energy bill (from the government’s perspective: reduce your carbon footprint) then Uncle Sam will underwrite that. In fact, the Obama administration has compiled a handy list of the 23 “climate change” related assistance programs they have across eight federal departments.
Returning to our original query—what’s next, cars? No, because it can’t be “next” if it already happened. Just like the housing market, government intervention in the recession propped up the auto industry in America. If you buy from one of the Big Three, you are purchasing from a company that only exists in its current form because Obama bought off his union buddies with a blank check from Congress.
More tangibly, if you buy a new car that makes the bureaucrats happy (i.e., it runs on coal natural gas electricity from a magical plug) then you will receive a credit worth up to $7,500.
Is There Anything Government Doesn’t Do?
Faced with these, my Twitter interlocutor tried to console himself:
As Lee Corso says, not so fast, my friend! The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) runs a $3 billion program to pay Americans’ energy bills, called the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. After it is laundered through your state government, the money goes straight towards paying your home heating or cooling bill. Even Hawaiians, who suffer from near-perfect weather, received over $5 million last year.
While the federal government has not launched a program to buy low-income women Prada and Gucci, it does subsidize plenty of other “luxury” goods. For instance, those electric and plug-in car tax credits mentioned above predominantly go to the more affluent, since Priuses and Teslas are not cheap. Also, the “Obamaphone” program provides cell phones to millions of people who surely would survive without this luxury.
What about the luxury of starting your own business? The Small Business Administration exists to help you get a loan, hire and train employees, and apply to be a government contractor. Not sure that’s what Madison, et al., had in mind at the Constitutional Convention.
Womb to Tomb, Baby
Returning to Biden’s original statement, conservatives should realize that no amount of public schooling would ever satisfy the Left. Already, federal taxpayers fund an enormous portion of K-12 schools’ budgets (hence stories like this where federal policies override local concerns—localities believe there’s too much money at stake to turn down attached federal mandates), subsidize the college education of nearly nine in ten undergraduates, and offer six different programs (most notable is the $3.5 billion failure known as Head Start) related to preschool. And the Obama administration is insisting Congress expand Washington’s reach further, earlier, and more often.
How early? Before you were even formed in the womb, President Obama was spending taxpayer dollars on you. At womenshealth.gov, there are answers to this question, ostensibly asked by actual women: “I am thinking about getting pregnant. How can I take care of myself?” Well, you can partake in some of the $5 billion in Title V grants available from HHS. When it comes time to deliver, Medicaid is there, sponsoring 40 percent of all births in the United States. And they’re proud of it. It’s their first talking point.
As life goes on, don’t forget the high-cost programs that provide the daily necessities, such as food through food stamps, healthcare costs (from Medicare and Medicaid), and incidentals (traditional welfare, Social Security Disability Insurance). As you near the end of life, be sure to collect from Washington for taking care of yourself past age 60 ($347 million in 2015) or have your family reimbursed for taking care of you ($145 million this year).
Considering the wide range of goods Washington pays for, it is only natural that Joe Biden would insist on a few more years of schooling, courtesy of the federal government.
It’s also no surprise he does not feel the need to challenge Hillary Clinton for the mantle of Democratic presidential nominee. They have the same ends in mind, and would reach them by the same autocratic means Obama has. So ride off into the sunset, Joe, assured that Hillary will make those last few expansions to government that “we all know” are necessary.