For the tens of millions who are suffering in our society, the most compassionate outcome is for our economy to create more jobs. But President Obama has demonstrated an unerring knack for getting in the way. As I have pointed out in previous columns, he has created a hostile regulatory environment that has made businesses afraid to expand and banks afraid to lend. Investors are afraid to make job-creating investments: the threat of higher taxes makes it harder to justify risking money in an abysmal economy. Employers are afraid to hire because they have no idea how much Obamacare will increase the cost of each additional worker. Whether Obama pursues these policies out of clueless befuddlement, or whether he’s motivated by a cynical divide-and-conquer political strategy, the result is the same: misery, anxiety and despair. Unemployment over 8 percent for three-and-a-half straight years. Real unemployment of 15 percent. Voting for more of the same is hardly an act of compassion.
Mitt Romney is fond of saying that the private sector creates jobs, but that President Obama thinks government creates jobs. But under Obamanomics, it hardly matters: the president has made it harder to create jobs in both the private sector and the public sector. Obama’s wasteful stimulus has left us with little but record debt, which has thwarted his misguided dream of yet another costly new public jobs program.
Some liberals equate compassion with government spending on social programs — regardless of whether that spending actually helps people. Paul Ryan, a disciple of Jack Kemp, knows that we have inadvertently created much misery through well-meaning social programs. Welfare programs, for example, destroyed families by making fathers economically expendable. We’re still dealing with the social wreckage that those programs caused prior to welfare reform. Some liberals, however, believe that their support for social programs makes them good people, and they don’t overly concern themselves with whether those programs actually work. That’s not compassion, that’s narcissism.
The other problem with equating compassion with government spending, of course, is that the federal government has to borrow 40 cents of every dollar it spends. We already spend hundreds of billions of dollars just to pay interest on our debt, and much of that gets sucked straight overseas. With the trajectory that Obama has put us on, we’ll be spending a trillion dollars a year on interest within a decade. When we use “compassion” as an excuse to avoid spending cuts and entitlement reform, we are being heartlessly uncompassionate to our children and grandchildren. It is they who will have to bear this crippling debt that we have run up to spend on ourselves; it is they who may, like the Greeks, lose the ability to use government as a means to protect the weakest in society.
It is fashionable on the left to accuse Ryan of lacking compassion. They have it backwards. The policies espoused by Ryan — and Romney — are the most compassionate of all: Pro-growth tax reform to create jobs for those who are struggling the most. Entitlement reform that protects the benefits of current seniors (and near-seniors), but keeps both the programs and our government solvent for younger people. Government that gets out of the way of job creation. Health care that is patient-centered, not government-controlled, and that endows rich and poor alike with the power to be consumers. By advocating these policies in the face of relentlessly merciless and dishonest demagoguery, Ryan has shown a courage that has validated the authenticity of his compassion.