Indeed. But not in a good way. Alan Colmes has an op-ed of this title in The Wall Street Journal; let’s look at some of his claims.
Conservatives blast the left for not appreciating “American exceptionalism”—even though Barack Obama is the only president to have ever used that phrase, at least in the past eight decades or so.
Which Democratic Presidential Candidate Obama did pejoratively:
I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.
Sure. Our exceptionalism is just one among 20. Or 192. But this is a minor quibble.
Here’s the important stuff. Here’s Social Security, for example.
Roosevelt created Social Security [wrote Colmes], a program that today keeps 40% of seniors above the poverty line and helps families with disabilities and those who have lost loved ones.
FDR did this at a time when there were seven American workers for every retiree, and the retirees had a life expectancy of five years in retirement. Moreover, FDR designed it as a supplemental income program, with the retirees still expected to look to their families for any additional support needed. Today, Social Security has three workers for every retiree, and the retirees have a life expectancy of fifteen years in retirement. And today’s family man is taxed for the current retirement support of utter strangers. He’s not allowed to set that money aside for his own retired parents in particular, or for his own future retirement. Under these demographic facts, Colmes objects to redesigning Social Security, so that the promise of a safety net can be kept—if under different guise.
[Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan] wants to dismantle that same Social Security program.
No, let’s just leave it alone, and let it fail completely.
Food stamps. Ah, yes.
Today the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps, feeds one in seven Americans. The program was established in 1939 by FDR’s then Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace. Recipients are not all lazy bums sitting on their posteriors….
The only ones talking about food stamp recipients being lazy are Progressives trying to distract by denying a charge that isn’t being made.
More importantly, though, Colmes actually recites that food stamp dependency ratio like it’s a good thing that government policies have reduced 15% of Americans to such straits. But why do we have a food stamp program at all? FDR, via the National Labor Relations Act, put a floor under the wages employers were allowed to pay—at the height of the Depression, with 20+% unemployment—thus making it too expensive for employers to hire. On top of this, he put a floor, with his Agricultural Adjustment Acts, under the price of food at which farmers could sell, ensuring that all of those out of work Americans—too many now unemployable by law—could not afford their daily bread. Enter FDR’s food stamps, in an attempt to enable the artificially priced out of work to buy their food at those artificially inflated prices. And those CCC and WPA programs of which Colmes is so proud? Well-intentioned, to be sure. But they worked in concert with FDR’s price and wage floors to crowd out the private employers that otherwise would have done the hiring—with the private economy’s far greater impact. Indeed, these New Deal policies, far from providing relief from the impact of the Depression, prolonged it.
“Reproductive rights.” Colmes has this to say:
The fight for women’s rights continues, as regressives try to put an end to already-established reproductive rights. Even if you don’t believe that 98% of Catholic women have used birth control, as a 2011 Guttmacher Institute study showed, the overwhelming majority has[.]
If Messrs. Romney and Ryan have their way, reproductive rights would be overturned and millions of Americans denied health-care coverage.
Here Colmes is cynically conflating the right to choose to have children—or not—with insurance coverage for the birth control mechanisms and abortifacients that facilitate that choice. And he insists that it’s OK to force people or their religious institutions to pay for these even when it goes against their religious beliefs. The fact that so many of us are sinners, anyway, somehow excuses this. More, Colmes conflates objection to being forced to pay for something that violates one’s conscience with denial of availability altogether. This is just more cynicism. There’s nothing wrong with birth control for those who want it. Insurance policies even exist that cover the incredibly cheap contraceptives as well as the abortifacients. The problem is when the user is, by law, allowed to force others to pay for her contraceptives, her abortifacients, instead of buying them with her own money.
Colmes’ Progressives want the wrong type of exceptionalism for America. They don’t want the old, foundational exceptionalism of self-reliance, individual responsibility, and a limited government that recognizes both the fundamental wisdom of Americans and that it has no standing to do for us for our own good. They want Big Government acting in our stead.