The American Dream—the idea that any American has the ability to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, work hard, make good decisions, and lift themselves from even abject poverty to extreme wealth—is what has always made America different from any other nation on earth. Only in the United States’ free market capitalist economic system has this level of economic mobility been possible, which is why people from around the world have flocked to the United States throughout its history. But is the American Dream still possible?
According to a recent Rasmussen Reports survey, 59 percent of Americans believe that it is impossible for any individual American to work hard and get rich, the highest level ever. Not only that, only 48% believe that it is possible for anyone to work their way out of poverty, while 39% disagree. Rasmussen also shows that pessimism is at an all-time high, with only 25% of Americans believing that the economy will be better a year from now than it is today. Given the sorry state of the American economy, that’s a very sad statement.
Throughout the course of his presidency, Barack Obama has been making the case for more government involvement in the lives of Americans. But the recent scandals that have become frontpage news have gone right to the heart of President Obama’s message. And they seem to have caught the eye of Americans.
According to Gallup, 54% of Americans believe the government has too much power. That’s up from 51% just last year, but down from the high of 59% in late 2010, just before the mid-term elections:
The case against a big government was perhaps best made by David Axelrod as he was trying to defend President Obama, to whom he served as an advisor. “[W]e have a large government,” he claimed as he made a case for President Obama’s lack of knowledge about the IRS scandal.
It’s been said that the conservative and libertarian case against big government often falls on deaf ears because Americans don’t know what it means and we, as limited government advocates, cannot properly relay it. But the IRS scandal is the one, as Chris Matthews recently explained, is the one that can resonate with voters because it hits so close to home.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has been spending a lot of time recently working to bring transparency to President Barack Obama’s drones program.
A recently released memo from the Department of Justice laid out a tenuous legal justification for drone strikes on American citizens. While the Obama Administration has promised to explain the “mechanisms” by which they choose their targets, there are still many questions to be answered, including the constitutional issues that come with ignoring the right to due process.
Sen. Paul has said that the nomination of John Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is more important than Chuck Hagel’s nomination, which Republicans successfully — though only temporarily — stalled last week. He has asked some hard, pointed questions of John Brennan about President Obama’s drones program, including whether or not the White House would carry out drone strikes on American citizens on American soil. But no real answers have been given, and the lack of transparency with this program and the role the CIA will play has prompted Sen. Paul to call Brennan’s nomination the “preeminent libertarian concern.”
Sen. Paul responded to criticism that he has faced from neoconservatives about this issue during an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.
Yesterday, my friends at the Foundation for Economic Education noted a recent article by the Christian Science Monitor explaining how the “debate about job creation is becoming one of the central themes of this year’s election campaign.” While it’s true that the economy, which includes “job creation,” is something to which some voters are paying attention, those running things in Washington are trying to find any excuse to talk about other issues.
The record of President Barack Obama on the economy should be the primary focus of voters at the point in time. With the real unemployment rate at 15% (the U-3 rate, which is what media outlets report, is at 8.3%), a budget deficit approaching $1 trillion for the fourth consecutive year, and the fiscal cliff looming; it’s hard to defend Obama’s record. In fact, as Dan Mitchell recently explained, Obamanomics has been a failure.
There is some rare good news out of Washington, even rarer when it deals with civil liberties. In a vote of 99 to 1, the United States Senate adopted new detainee language in the defense authorization bill:
The U.S. Senate on Thursday night struck a bipartisan deal that modified controversial language in a major defense policy bill which had drawn strong opposition from critics in both parties, who charged it would allow the indefinite detention of American citizens by the military.
The 99-1 vote came after several days of heated debate on the Senate floor over whether this defense bill really changed how U.S. citizens accused of supporting terrorists would be treated, or if critics were right that U.S. citizens could be held by the military indefinitely without the filing of formal charges.
Compromise language developed in part by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was ultimately approved, which read as follows:
“Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens or lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.”
The compromise won almost unanimous support, as Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin (D-MI) said he would fight to protect that language in upcoming House-Senate negotiations; it was unclear whether the language would be accepted by the White House, which has threatened to veto the entire defense bill.
With the stock market posting its worst quarterly losses since the beginning of the 2008 financial crisis as it lost more than 12% of its value and the odds of a recession growing greater, President Barack Obama wants Americans to know that they’ve “gotten a little soft”:
President Barack Obama told a Florida TV station yesterday that the United States is facing economic difficulties because it has “gotten a little soft” during the last 20 years.
“This is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft and we didnʼt have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades,” Obama said.
The fix is that “we need to get back on track,” he said, while urging Congress to pass his new $447 billion one-year stimulus bill.
Those comparisons between Obama and Jimmy Carter are just going to become more frequent as the comment bears resemblance to a speech the former president made during economic turmoil in the late 70s — hey, there’s a reason voters that were around to experience him still disapprove of him: