Political messaging in Washington is, if nothing else, obvious and transparent.
Fallout from ‘Obamacare’ threatens the remaining three years of his administration, and the president desperately needs to change the subject.
Big donors and far left planners have already put together the Ready for Hillary campaign, moving on from Obama, putting him in real danger of being a three year lame duck.
Democratic senators are looking for any floating flotsam to cling to and survive the political wreckage that is the current socialized medicine failure that they own.
One of the rules of political communication is that when you get into trouble, have three core-tested talking points that you can fall back on, and just keep repeating them. That is the reflexive response that brings us the current “income inequality” lines being mouthed by people who have dominated government for the past seven years.
The big fight over extending unemployment insurance is part of this plan to change the subject over the failure of big government in an attempt to fool people into believing that the Democrats actually care about their plight.
Here is the truth. They don’t. It is in the left’s political interest for more and more Americans to be economically dependent upon the government. It is in the left’s political interest for fewer and fewer Americans to be paying income taxes, while shifting the burden disproportionately to those who make the most money.
For the income inequality argument to win, the public has to believe that America is a haves and have not society with no chance to better yourself beyond your given lot in life.
This is the transformative change that Obama and his handlers have sought, and this shifting the debate to income inequality is their test to see if they have succeeded in killing the belief in the core American value that anyone, through their own initiative, can raise themselves up by their own bootstraps and achieve their dreams.
Obama’s answer is that you cannot, and by making dependency upon the federal government normal, acceptable, and even desirable, he is effectively challenging the very essence of American exceptionalism.
This is not compassionate. It is giving Americans velvet handcuffs that don’t feel like the shackles of oppression when you put them on, but have the effect of permanently creating a mindset of dependency.
For proof just look at the unemployment insurance debate, where there is no discussion about the wisdom of extending the benefits at all, just about how to pay for them.
This in spite of Obama’s brag that he has created more than 8 million jobs since the recession bottomed out. Yet, even with an economy that is supposedly creating millions upon millions of jobs, the federal government is going to keep sending a weekly check to people who have been unemployed for more than half a year, reminding them that they cannot succeed on their own. Telling them that it doesn’t make sense to work 40 hours a week for $10 an hour, when in many states you can match that amount of money through the extended unemployment without any effort.
A Defining Moment
Being unemployed is hard. You lose confidence in your own abilities, you worry about how you are going to pay the mortgage or rent and feed your family. For many, being unemployed is a defining moment in their lives, when they start a business determined never to be dependent upon someone else for their livelihood again.
Long-term unemployment is even tougher, as job skills dwindle along with the hope for the future people envisioned for themselves.
It is a refining process, a character developer, but over time it becomes a lifestyle. The daily grind of getting up, arriving to work on time, trading your labor and talent for a paycheck, is a learned, adult activity. And it is easy to fall out of the habit, having your days turn from making your own way to living through the seemingly endless “NCIS” and “Law and Order” marathons from the comfort of your recliner.
Extending long-term unemployment benefits allows recipients the luxury of avoiding working in an hourly temporary job to make ends meet, as they look for a job, which may not exist anymore.
And it sends the most important message that anyone can receive. You are a failure, you cannot make it on your own, and you need big government to survive.
Destroying the American dream is easy, just make it so the people no longer believe in themselves, and they will cling to Uncle Sam as their provider.
That is Obama’s transformation, and it is the core of the messaging pivot toward whining about “income inequality.”
America used to reject this politics of envy. Obama’s desperate pivot away from the ‘Obamacare’ debacle is betting that the transformation of the American mindset is far enough along, that he can survive through standard Marxist class warfare language, and people will forget the failure of big government that his health care law represents.
Let’s pray that he isn’t right.
Rick Manning is the vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.