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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

Obama's Audacity of Dependency

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Buried in President Obama's partisan, populist klaxon call for liberalism Monday was a classic bit of bait and switch. Reprising a bit of rhetoric from last fall's campaign, Obama took a shot at critics (ahem) who suggest that a country might be a nation of "takers." With record numbers of people on food stamps and disability where would they ever have gotten such a notion? 

But Obama was determined to slap down any such notion, by reaffirming the many virtues of entitlements. Dependency is a good thing really, the president lectured us.


But here's where the bait and switch came in: 

"The commitments we make to each other -- through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security -- these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great," -Obama's inaugural address II"

No mention of Obama phones, green energy giveaways; corporate bailouts; the explosion of welfare dependency; agriculture subsidies; handouts to Hollywood; special interest tax breaks; Medicaid for able bodied adults, the rampant abuse of disability payments; (also here), rum subsidies, or two years of unemployment.
No mention of Sandra Fluke and the demand for free contraceptives; no "Julia" and the culture of perpetual reliance on government;  EBT withdrawals at strip clubs and liquor stores, 47 million on food stamps, bloated public sector salaries and benefits; the explosion of school breakfast and dinner programs in affluent communities; trillion dollar annual deficits, or the endless demands for cash for his stash..
Instead, he puts the "takers" label on your granny on Medicare and Social Security. Nice.
This sleight of hand on dependency/entitlements was, of course, entirely consistent with his attempts last week to suggest that conservatives, left to their own devices, would have granny eating dog food.
They have a particular vision about what government should and should not do, so they are suspicious about government’s commitments, for example, to make sure that seniors have decent health care as they get older,” Obama said. “They have suspicions about Social Security. They have suspicions about whether government should make sure that kids in poverty are getting enough to eat or whether we should be spending money on medical research.”

Obama seems to understand that the most effective way to defend the emerging moocher culture is to go on the offensive, by demonizing critics as soulless and mean-spirited-- while making sure that all eyes are focused on his straw men, rather than the real problems of an unsustainable welfare state.

This is the audacity of dependency: Obama does not merely embrace the entitlement culture as a positive good.. in his inaugural remarks, dependency becomes the source of our national greatness. (And you thought it was freedom, hard work, independence. Silly you.)

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