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The Obama Scorecard

Every government program is a winner.

Feb 25, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 23 • By FRED BARNES
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Only the uncaring could oppose a minimum wage hike, right? Faced with that question, Republicans may capitulate. They shouldn’t. Those earning $14,500 are potentially eligible for numerous stipends for the poor (food stamps, Medicaid, rent supplements), which mean they don’t live below the poverty line. And when the minimum wage rises, the number of jobs declines, counteracting Obama’s aim of adding jobs.

But the minimum wage is popular, and Obama’s proposal to make preschool available to all low- and medium-income families may be as well. According to economics columnist James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute, it could cost as much as $100 billion over 10 years. But, as we’ve come to expect, Obama didn’t cite a price tag when he promoted the program in Decatur, Georgia, two days after the speech to Congress.

He insisted “study after study” shows early education achieves positive results. On the contrary, the federal preschool program, Head Start, has poor results. “Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than $7 later on,” Obama said, “boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, reducing violent crime.”

That must set a record for far-fetched claims for liberal social policy. But what difference does that make? The program is “for the children.” Are you against giving every child in America a chance in life? Or as Vice President Biden might say, “Even if it helps only one child …”

All this will soon confront Republicans. Obama won’t let go. And there’s still more in his grab bag of programs: the Select USA Investment Summit, an Energy Security Fund (actually, it’s a tax hike), the Fix It First project, the Partnership to Rebuild America, Project Rebuild, and Promise Zones.

For Republicans, the response may be easier than they think. It’s simple: Forget the politics and do what’s right. Obama thinks the public loves government programs and wants more, whatever the cost. If he’s right, Republicans are doomed regardless of what they do politically. If he’s wrong, a Republican comeback is slouching toward Washington.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

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