- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Five years of President Obama’s policies have resulted in the first generation in our nation’s history that does not know whether it can do better than its parents. Mr. Obama may have killed the American dream.

Mr. Obama wants Americans to ignore the reality of the endless economic malaise. “The United States is better positioned for the 21st century than any other nation on Earth,” he said in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

To handle any lingering doubt in citizens’ minds, he tried to pin the blame on the rich instead of his policies.

“Corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better,” he said. “But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled.”

The president frequently uses class-warfare tactics to try to distract voters. The facts are that gross domestic product barely ekes up each quarter by low, single digits, while the labor-force participation rate is down to the lowest level in 35 years.

This means that the hope-and-change agenda enacted by Mr. Obama since 2009 has resulted in a stunted economy and fewer people than ever in the workforce.

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“People won’t do as well in the future as they would have as result of the policies of this president,” Rea S. Hederman Jr., director of the Center for Data Analysis at the Heritage Foundation, said in an interview.

“Taxes are higher than they were even under Bill Clinton. The health care bill requirements mean fewer people can get into labor force or take longer to find a job, so their lifetime earnings will be lower.”

There is a direct correlation between years of work experience and salary, so even being one or two years out of work will have lifelong consequences.

The president said in his speech that the United States now has “the lowest unemployment rate in over five years.” He neglected to explain that the rate has gone down recently only because people have decided to give up working. Some go back to school, others retire, but many have gone on disability or the government dole.

That’s why Mr. Obama asked Congress again to reinstate the long-term unemployment insurance that finally expired at the end of 2013. He knows that people just stop knocking on employers’ doors and sending out resumes after years of rejection.

He then swoops in and offers handouts that further disincentivize people.

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It is truly sad that the number of families dependent on the government for food stamps has skyrocketed almost 70 percent during this presidency. These are no longer the most vulnerable in our society. The so-called safety net has widened as fewer of us can find good jobs.

Just a few years ago, children and the elderly made up most of the food-stamp recipients. Now an analysis by The Associated Press shows that working-age people are now the majority of those dependent on the government for their meals.

A dependent, despondent, unemployed or underemployed American has become almost normal. How can people have hope for a better life in these circumstances?

We used to be driven by the knowledge that hard work and ambition would lead to upward mobility.

My grandfather dropped out of school in fourth grade in order to help his parents support their 10 children. He worked seven days a week, often two jobs, and built a business that enabled him to send all three of his children to college. In turn, my father bought his family a house in the suburbs of Baltimore and sent my sister and me to private schools.

Each generation moved up the ladder of financial stability and education. However, I’m nowhere near where my parents were at my age.

Unlike our parents, we know that Social Security and Medicare will both be bankrupt by the time we hit retirement age. And we will most likely have to pay enormous taxes to keep up payments on the $17 trillion debt that keeps growing, with no end in sight.

Mr. Hederman said the main reason we aren’t seeing a rebound from recession is because high regulations and high taxes discourage entrepreneurs.

“We’re making it harder for people to go out and start a new business,” he explained. “Your grandfather just needed a good idea and the drive. Today you also need a good lawyer and good accountant to understand tax law and other regulations.”

Americans thrive on a challenge, and working for financial security and providing a good life for their families used to be a goal within everyone’s reach. Now we are just muddling through.

However, it’s not too late to turn things around. If Mr. Obama genuinely cared about positioning citizens for success in this century, he would cut regulations and taxes so entrepreneurs could build the small businesses that are the engine of our economy.

We don’t need more handouts. We need more freedom.

Emily Miller is a senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times and author of “Emily Gets Her Gun” (Regnery, 2013).

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