June brought the perfect encapsulation of the Obama economy: More Americans signed up for disability benefits than got jobs. According to government statistics, 80,000 Americans found work last month, while 85,000 dropped out of the labor force altogether to collect Social Security disability payments.
It is possible that an unusual number of Americans have become disabled during President Obama’s tenure — but if so, what does that say about the virtues of Obamacare? In any case, though Mr. Obama promised that unemployment would not top 8 percent if we passed the stimulus law, and though he predicted that the unemployment rate would be at 5.6 percent today, the private economy itself is quite disabled under this leadership.
There are very few jobs on offer. People are accordingly going where the money is. From the beginning of the recovery in June 2009, more Americans have joined the ranks of the disabled (3.1 million) than have found jobs (2.6 million). Record numbers have also filed for unemployment insurance, welfare benefits, and food stamps (which one in seven Americans now receive).
The federal government has so many welfare programs that a top official of the Government Accountability Office couldn’t even provide a fixed number to a House oversight committee, nor would Patricia Dalton “hazard a guess” as to what percentage of these programs are accomplishing the purposes for which they were created. What is not in doubt is the increase in funding President Obama has requested for welfare — 42 percent over 2008 levels.
Since the administration believes unemployment insurance to be the best way to expand the economy, it isn’t surprising to find that the Food Stamp program (or SNAP, as it’s now called) is also advertising for more “customers.” The SNAP website encourages local offices to be creative about finding more beneficiaries. “Throw a Great Party. Host social events where people mix and mingle. Make it fun by having activities, games, food, and entertainment, and provide information about SNAP.” The Daily Caller reports that SNAP is also running radio ads (cost to you: about $3 million) to encourage greater participation in North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, California, Texas, and New York.
SNAP, with a touching faith in the Keynesian multiplier, explains that “every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates $9.20 in additional community spending. If the national participation rate rose five percentage points . . . $2.5 billion total in new economic activity would be generated nationwide.” Right.