Opinion

Obama is buying votes on the taxpayers’ dime

Cliff Sims Founder and CEO, Yellowhammer Strategies

It is now officially time to put to bed the half-witted rumblings of Obama potentially not seeking re-election. His new home loan refinance plan is little more than a thinly veiled attempt to buy votes in Florida and Nevada — two states that will be major battlegrounds in the 2012 presidential race.

Florida and Nevada were especially hard-hit by the real estate crash. Now, in an attempt to bolster his dwindling re-election chances, the president is imposing new regulations that will give lower interest rates to homeowners who owe up to 125% of their homes’ values.

While it is unclear how many homeowners will benefit from this program, there are clear negative consequences for taxpayers. As The Daily Caller reported on Monday, “Federal risk-based fees will be reduced, legal obligations to federal agencies on existing loans are being dropped, and private-sector risks will be automatically shifted to the government on new loans.” In other words, when mortgages go unpaid, you — the taxpayer — will be on the hook. If that sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve been on the hook a lot lately thanks to the private-sector meddling of the past several administrations.

And the hits just keep on coming.

In Colorado — another battleground state — on Wednesday, Obama announced new rules for repayment of federal student loans. His plan will allow the almost 6 million people who currently have both direct government student loans and government-backed private loans to consolidate into one government loan with a half-percent rate cut. He also introduced an updated “pay as you earn” option for low-income student loan borrowers. It allows graduates to pay 10 percent of their discretionary income for 20 years. The rest of their student loan debt will be forgiven. Another part of the plan is catered to the president’s beloved public sector. Individuals who work in so-called “public service occupations” can have their debt forgiven after just 10 years.

Millennials voted roughly two to one for Obama in 2008 but have since cooled on him. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll conducted earlier this month shows the president’s approval rating with 18- to 34-year-olds down to 47% from its high of 62% in 2009. It is hardly surprising that Obama is rolling out a plan that directly addresses their concerns.

In short, the president is methodically identifying key voting blocs and using the power of the presidency to make sure they pull the lever for him in 2012 — and he’s doing it all on the taxpayers’ dime.

This new series of executive actions is being trumpeted along with Obama’s new slogan, “We can’t wait.” The Democrat-controlled Senate obviously wasn’t looped in on the plan. They haven’t passed a budget in 909 days. So it can be difficult to take the president seriously when he says things like, “The American people simply can’t wait for the Republican Congress to act.”

Our government has functioned successfully for over 200 years because of a system of checks and balances. Similarly, the free-market economy has a built-in system of checks and balances. It’s called risk. Is it any wonder that both our government and our economy have suffered under a president who insists on ignoring the importance and past successes of these safeguards? In spite of an unbroken string of failures, the president continues to impose his centrally planned economic pipe dreams on the United States economy.

In 1984, Ronald Reagan’s re-election campaign was summed up by his “Morning in America” ad. Steve Jobs offered to try to recreate that level of ad magic for Barack Obama in 2012. But even with Jobs’s well-documented “reality distortion field,” it would have been tough to squeeze any sunshine out of an Obama presidency that has been more like the dark side of the moon for most Americans. So instead, the president is using every conceivable interpretation of executive power to swing key constituencies his way.

The thing is, most Americans are just plain worse off today than they were when Obama took office three years ago. Even worse, they’re not as optimistic about the future. Those are problems that another ill-conceived government program simply can’t solve.

Cliff Sims is the chairman of the Alabama College Republicans and founder of Generation NOW, an organization formed to educate and empower a new generation of leaders. His Twitter handle is @Cliff_Sims.