Weekly Standard Online
September 5, 2012
by Irwin Stelzer
There is much to admire in Michelle Obama's speech to the Democratic convention: the admirable delivery, the praise of her husband's virtues was sincere and moving, and the rags-to-riches tale avoided seeming stale after so many others.
But the policy implications—and this was a political, as well as a personal, speech—are cause for alarm. As many observers have noted, there was no room for the private sector: all the goodies the president wishes to hand out come from government, with no mention of just how the wealth to fund these benefits is to be created. And, as contributing editor Charles Krauthammer points out, none of these benefits (all to be funded by massive redistributions of income) is the result of a left-leaning ideology. Rather, they simply represent a non-ideological president's desire to do good—to heal the sick, succor the poor, comfort the disadvantaged. This, from the wife of this most ideological president.
Equally important was the disconnect between Mrs. Obama's obviously sincere wishes that the children of this country have an opportunity to realize the American dream, and the reality of her husband's policies. Set aside the fact that her version of that dream is to seize the opportunities that government will make available: "free" health care, jobs in the public sector, subsidized student loans. Consider instead that because of her husband's policies the children about whom she genuinely cares will enter life with the largest debt burden of any generation—a bill they will have to work very hard to pay before they can start to enjoy a rising standard of living. Consider, too, that they will enter life in a globalized, competitive world poorly educated because the president will not take on the teachers' unions and free kids from rotten schools, and has even killed a modest program that was allowing a handful of poor children to escape from the appalling Washington, D.C. public school system into schools similar to those his daughters attend.
In the competition of wives who love their husbands the Mrs. Romney vs. Mrs. Obama battle must be considered a draw: both ably extolled the virtues of their man. Mrs. Romney did not contest the policy field, a good thing since this is an area in which Mrs. Obama is a practiced and skilled combatant. As her speech clearly demonstrated.
Irwin Stelzer is a Senior Fellow and Director of Economic Policy Studies for the Hudson Institute. He is also the U.S. economist and political columnist for The Sunday Times (London) and The Courier Mail (Australia), a columnist for The New York Post, and an honorary fellow of the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies for Wolfson College at Oxford University. He is the founder and former president of National Economic Research Associates and a consultant to several U.S. and United Kingdom industries on a variety of commercial and policy issues. He has a doctorate in economics from Cornell University and has taught at institutions such as Cornell, the University of Connecticut, New York University, and Nuffield College, Oxford.
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