DENVER, COLORADO — President Barack Obama came back to Denver yesterday and signed the enormous spending legislation that will impose the burden of at least $1 trillion in debt to future American generations.
Denver was a fitting site for the ceremony: this is, after all, where he so articulately sold America his socialist mission as a candidate during last summer’s Democratic National Convention.
But Obama’s visit this week came as state legislators in Denver continue a weeks-long heated debate over a proposed $41 increase to Colorado’s vehicle registration fee. How quaint it must feel to those legislatures to be voting on that after their federal counterparts voted for a measure that will cost the average family of four more than $30,000. And that’s assuming that many of the entitlements doled out as part of Obama’s plan don’t become a permanent part of the American landscape.
While Colorado’s transportation funding debate is part of a larger conversation on how to best address a nearly $1 billion budget shortfall, the state is expected to get nearly $2 billion in federal aid as a result of the stimulus bill. And while this should encourage state leaders, especially in a smaller state like Colorado, to put on the fiscal breaks, Democrats in control of the legislature have shown no indication that they plan to alter state spending plans as a result of a federal cash infusion. Government can never have enough of our money.
Frustrated conservatives didn’t take Obama’s visit sitting down Tuesday. While about 75 people stood outside a city museum to show their support for Obama as he signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, hundreds more turned out on the steps of the state Capitol to take part in a “pork roast,” organized by various free market organizations, including the Independence Institute. Headlining the event was political commentator Michelle Malkin, who referred to the stimulus bill as “generational theft.”
Also speaking was state Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry who, in his early thirties, is already being mentioned as a possible contender to challenge incumbent Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat. While Ritter applauded Obama’s selection of Denver for the bill signing and called the decision an honor, Penry sounded a different tune, saying he was proud of all of those who came to the anti-stimulus rally. “This will be the moment when Republicans reclaim the mantle of fiscal responsibility,” he told the crowd.
With so much at stake, it must be. While Obama sells corporate welfare and government subsidies for major industries and irresponsible homeowners as “reinvestment,” we have become incredibly vulnerable to the false notion as Americans that we can’t survive without government stepping in to take care of us.
I saw this ethos first hand last October, as I stood on those same state capitol steps. That time, however, I found myself in a sea of more than 100,000 wildly passionate, madly in love Obama supporters.
As Obama prepared to take the stage that day, there were enough placards to fill a thousand trash cans. The demands focused mostly on universal health care, finding an end to the Iraq conflict, free college tuition, developing renewable energy (but not “clean” coal), mortgage subsidies for those in expensive loans, and tax cuts for the middle class.
And in his remarks that day, Obama pledged to make the dreams of many in the crowd come true. Even then, however, he knew he would need to find a way to fund the promises he made that day. “If people ask how we’re going to pay for this, you tell that if we can spend $10 billion a month in Iraq, we can spend some money to rebuild the United States,” he told the elated crowd.
It becomes truly ironic then that Obama also picked Tuesday to announce that the U.S. will send 12,000 more troops to Afghanistan. “The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and al Qaeda supports the insurgency and threatens America from its safe-haven along the Pakistani border,” Obama conceded in a news release.
What has been tragically lost in all of the buzz about Obama’s presidency is any concern about the continued decline of personal responsibility in America. As a nation, we no longer believe that after working hard and making sacrifices, we will be rewarded for good market behavior. And why should we if future generations will just continue to buy us out of our bad decisions?
Brandon Garcia, an eight-year-old Colorado boy featured in an October Rocky Mountain News article was asked why he supported Obama’s candidacy over that of Republican John McCain. His response: “I always listen to the speech of Obama in the commercial that he will help pay the rent of (our) house.”
Let’s just hope that one day little Brandon will believe in his own ability to pay his rent. Without that, the American dream has died.
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