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HOW PRESIDENT OBAMA’S POLICIES HARMED YOUNG PEOPLE
Young voters, aged 18-to-29, were among Barack Obama’s strongest supporters in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. They backed him by a whopping 66%-to-31% margin over John McCain in ’08, and by 60%-to-37% over Mitt Romney four years later. There are multiple reasons for this. Many young people, to be sure, have embraced the notion that Obama is someone who “cares” about average, ordinary Americans and the struggles they face. Others have been influenced by the opinions of their college and university professors, the vast majority of whom are emphatically pro-Democrat “progressives.” Still others are wowed by the “cool” factor, noting that so many of the entertainment-industry celebrities whom they revere have been highly vocal in their support of Obama.
Whatever their rationale, it is clear that large numbers of young people are convinced that this president has their best interests at heart. To puncture their misguided belief, this pamphlet lays bare a number of ways in which Obama, while scoring political points for himself, has egregiously set young people up for a lifetime of tribulation that will come in many forms.
Specifically: Obama’s massive expansion of the national debt lays a crushing burden on young people, who are going to be responsible for paying it. Obama’s weak economy has already brought about youth-unemployment levels exceeding anything we have witnessed in more than half a century. Obama’s proposed minimum-wage hike, if passed, will inevitably—like every other minimum-wage hike in living memory—cause a rise in youth unemployment by pricing many young, inexperienced workers out of the job market. The tax-and-spend policies that Obama has promoted and enacted will burden young people not only in the short term, but as far into the future as the eye can see. The crushing costs and substandard care associated with Obama’s signature healthcare-reform legislation will diminish young people’s quality of life for generations to come. For nearly two decades, Obama has supported education policies designed to indoctrinate young minds and feather his own political nest rather than to cultivate academic mastery.
On the college and university level, Obama has placed the federal government in charge of the student-loan industry, thereby causing both tuition costs and student debt levels to rise dramatically. And on the international stage, Obama’s policies have fostered the development of a world where Islamic jihad has made enormous inroads, and where existential threats to Americans and their allies are more pronounced than ever before.
Obama’s Massive Expansion of the National Debt Lays a Crushing Burden on Young People
During his 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama famously referred to George W. Bush as “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic” for having added, “by his lonesome,” some $4 trillion to America’s national debt over an eight-year period. Vowing that he would not “leave our children with a debt that they cannot repay,” Obama piously pronounced that it was morally unacceptable to “simply spend as we please and defer the consequences to the next budget, the next administration, or the next generation.” He pledged to “tak[e] responsibility right now … for getting our spending under control,” and promised to “cut the deficits we inherited by half” within four years.
Obama’s words resonated powerfully with his supporters. Particularly enthusiastic were young voters, who arguably stood to lose more than anyone else if the serious debt-reduction measures the president alluded to were not implemented soon. It was they—the taxpayers of the tomorrow—who would be forced to bear, for decades on end, the immense financial burden of any continued increases in America’s national debt. When Obama took his Oath of Office on January 20, 2009, the total U.S. federal debt was $10.627 trillion.
Before long, it became clear that candidate Obama’s enticing words had been nothing more than a pack of lies. During his first term in office, Obama presided over a national debt that not only continued to grow, but grew at a pace that was utterly without precedent: $3.98 billion of new debt each and every day—or, to frame it another way, $67,245 of new debt per second. By the start of Obama’s second term, in January 2013, the federal debt had skyrocketed to a once-unimaginable $16.433 trillion—a $5.81 trillion increase in just four years. By April 15 (tax day), the figure had reached $16.8 trillion. Today the U.S. government borrows an incredible 46 cents of every dollar that it spends. By any measure, President Obama has clearly distinguished himself as the most profligate government spender in the history of the human race.
To understand more clearly what the foregoing numbers actually mean to living, breathing human beings, consider that approximately 122 million American residents pay federal income taxes each year. If we count married couples who file jointly as individual “tax units”—or households—that number falls to approximately 85 million tax units, each owing a $196,000 share of the national debt. Meanwhile, another 76 million Americans younger than 18 are steadily approaching the day when many of them will join the ranks of those taxpayers—at which time they, too, will be saddled with a share of the nation’s debt burden. By then, however, that burden will be much heavier because the debt, by the Obama administration’s own projections, will continue to rise at a dizzying pace and will reach $20.3 trillion by the end of 2016, Obama’s last full year in office. Approximately $9.7 trillion of that total will have been racked up during the Obama years, meaning that Obama’s debt, by itself, will be nearly equivalent to the combined debt of everyprevious president in American history, including the one whose spending habits Obama described as “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic.”
If we assume that in 2016 there will still be about 85 million tax units in the U.S., each of them will owe, on average, a $235,000 slice of the national debt. Fully $112,000 of that total will have been accumulated under Obama. This latter figure alone far exceeds the current $88,368 average cost for room-and-board at a four-year college, and approaches the median cost of a home in certain parts of the United States. As a result, when today’s young people become tomorrow’s taxpayers, they will be forced to pour rivers of their own hard-earned money—which could have been applied to schooling expenses or housing purchases—into a cesspool of waste created, in large part, by the improvidence of a president who is addicted to spending, massive wealth redistribution, and, in the words of columnist George Will, “conscripting the wealth of future generations” in order to serve his own immediate political ends.
The figures above are not mere abstractions. They have monumentally significant, real-world consequences that will greatly affect the fortunes of all future generations. At this very moment, U.S. taxpayers are already paying$237 billion in interest on the national debt each and every year. This amounts to nearly $3,000 per taxpaying household, per year. But this total pales in comparison to the calamity that will greet the new generation of young taxpayers. When today’s historically low interest rates rise, as they inevitably will, the interest on the nation’s ever-mounting debt will exceed $1 trillion per year by 2022, according to Erskine Bowles, a co-chair of President Obama’s bipartisan deficit-reduction commission.
That would be more than the government currently spends on Medicare, Social Security, national defense, Medicaid, or any other safety-net programs that provide aid to the poor. It would also be more than the government now spends on the Departments of Education, Agriculture, Homeland Security, Transportation, Labor, Energy, Justice, Housing, State, and Commerce, combined. Assuming, again, a base of about 85 million tax units, that $1 trillion figure translates to more than $11,000 per taxpaying household, per year, just for interest on the debt. “We’re on a dramatically unsustainable path,” warns Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard University economics professor and former International Monetary Fund chief economist.
Even these daunting figures, however, understate the magnitude of the debt burden that young taxpayers will be forced to shoulder if interest rates should happen to rise higher than expected—something that could certainly happen if America’s credit rating is downgraded in any significant way. To be sure, such downgrades have already happened several times under Obama:
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