I’m back with my latest musing, on why I was wrong about a prior criticism of former president Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus package. As a Republican and Conservative libertarian, I have to work harder at objectivity when assessing his successes and failures. My missive here is to share one of his successes, which I erroneously deemed a failure:
After researching certain aspects of Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus package, I now see the labeling of him as the “food stamp president” quite differently. I haven’t written about it in a while, but I think a prior criticism I hurled his way was wrong. I didn’t agree with people calling him the “FSP” – I stand by that, but I understood why many called him that. Some attributed it to racism, and I’m sure that’s true for some percentage of his opponents, but certainly not all. I refuse to entertain the notion that all, or most Republicans are racists. It’s a stereotype, and I don’t play those games. In his economic stimulus, he expunged the work requirements, making the SNAP/FS program more accessible to Americans in need. We were in a recession, people were out of work and losing their homes. Many who had never received any government aid, found themselves swallowing their pride to feed their children. Most had at least one job, but simply didn’t make enough to make ends meet. It’s still true today that most SNAP recipients are working.
Barack Obama helped millions defray their cost of living by putting food on their tables. In other words, the criticism was that under his presidency, the highest number of people were food stamp recipients, due to the economic crisis. While there’s some truth to that, it’s a bit misleading for me and others (like Newt Gingrich), to assert, that he was responsible for the economic crisis, therefore forcing people on the SNAP program. That’s a faulty cause and effect. No, he recognized the crisis we were in, cause notwithstanding, and deliberately (key word) expanded the program, so millions could eat. The trade off was that the number of recipients under his watch soared. He deliberately took that hit on his economic report card. You don’t have to be a member of MENSA to understand, that loosening rigid requirements means more qualified applicants. You may not agree with his solution, and that’s your prerogative, but it was his solution, in his best judgment. The ends justified the means to him. That’s the job America hired him to do. If you want me to believe, that a Harvard educated attorney and former Senator couldn’t foresee, that the number of recipients would increase after removing work requirements, you may as well be asking me to believe in five-legged unicorns. Believing that is also an attack on his intelligence, and mine. You’d also have to ignore the trillions in debt, created by Bush before him.
Some will argue that his motive was to increase government dependency – one rung on the ladder of socialism. The problem lies in the fact that it never happened. We aren’t a socialist nation. If I’m wrong and that was his goal, he failed utterly, so it doesn’t matter anyway. There will be criticisms of him that I’ll stand by, but this isn’t one of them. I’m humble enough to retract this view. Of course, there’s a valid counter argument to this reassessment that isn’t lost on me. Once the economy improved and the recession ended (2012), the number of SNAP recipients should have done down. That didn’t happen. The question is why, but that’s a lateral issue, one that’s unrelated to the “food stamp president” label. That’s also another musing. I’m reassessing my view of his presidency, before writing a critical essay on his legacy. In order to fairly assess his presidency, you have to look beyond the numbers. There’s a lot of gray area. You have to dig deeper. Fair is fair, and this is one view that I’m totally comfortable with amending.
Until next musing,
Talitha K. McEachin