Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
By guest blogger Donna Cole
No doubt that times have been tough in recent years, and it has left corporate management teams scrambling to make a few dollars in the world of Obamanomics. But for those crafty enough to see opportunity in the president's failed economic leadership, there are big bucks to be made. Let's take a look at a few who have made out like bandits in Obama's ever expanding welfare state. Look at the following stock charts and note what they all have in common.
The first thing that should strike you is that in two years all three of these "dollar stores" have more than doubled in value with the rise in stock price beginning after President Obama had been in office for one year. One could say that as the economy went down, and unemployment went up, that folks were just looking for bargains. There could be some truth to that, but if it was the only answer wouldn't we see a decline in stock value as unemployment went back down? And remember, in hard times people are not just searching for bargains, they are not spending the dollars they have at all. So, there must be more to it.
After President Obama took office in 2009 he began using his regulatory authority to lower the minimum requirements needed to qualify for various government social welfare programs. In other words, he didn't invent new social programs (besides Obamacare), he just made it a whole lot easier to get the already existing ones. I'm sure you have heard of the now famous Obamaphone. That program, which is run by Assurance Wireless who is owned by Sprint, has been around in one form or another for 30 years. Obama simply opened the floodgates and the "free" cell phones came pouring out (I put free in quotes because somebody, the taxpayer, does pay for it). The president gutted the Clinton era welfare reforms by removing the welfare to work requirement, and under his leadership the food stamp rolls grew from 32 million to 47 million receiving them.
Democrats argued that as the economy sunk expanding these programs was needed, but this makes no sense. If ones income level falls then at some point they also would fall into meeting the previous requirements. It is also logical that as unemployment has dropped, a sign of an improving economy, that so would those on a program like food stamps. But that hasn't happened, at least we don't think so.
The reason we cannot be sure is, as noted by Yale economics professor Casey Mulligan, that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has not released their yearly food stamps report on the previous fiscal year. Normally, these reports come out in late September or early October, but the one for fiscal year 2011 has yet to be seen. The 47 million number actually comes from fiscal year 2010. Those conspiracy minded among us may think these numbers were held back to help the president during his re-election campaign. Conspiracy nuts aside, those of us with half a brain can smell a dead fish.
Speaking of dead fish, remember the president's former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said, "Don't waste a good crisis"? The president certainly does, and he didn't waste it. Obama didn't expand these programs out of the warmth of his heart, it was a cold political calculation. The more people he could get enrolled on these programs, the more loyal Democrat voters he created. This is how he was re-elected, many people didn't vote for the future, they voted for the "free" stuff they already get.
This brings us back to the dollar stores soaring stock prices. These companies all saw the vast expansion of the food stamp program and acted on it. Beginning in 2010, they all installed refrigerator and freezer units in their stores, increased their dry and canned goods selections, and basically turned themselves into mini grocery stores. The only area they didn't expand into is fresh produce. Why? First is that produce has a high amount of cost in labor, transport, and loss to spoilage. But more importantly, the vast majority of food stamp users do not purchase fresh produce (those USDA food stamp reports prove this year in and year out). So why offer products that no customer will buy anyway? And so much for the First Lady's healthy eating ideas too.
The left used to howl about companies like Halliburton being war profiteers, I think one can safely say these companies are welfare profiteers. These crafty executives have found a way to line their pockets with taxpayer money, and they did it without getting a stimulus check. They did it the same way people get the food stamps, they took advantage of Obama's government largess. This literally is corporate welfare, and those stock charts show it pays pretty well.
Another thing learned from those stock charts is that we do not need the USDA food stamps report to tell us what is going on with the program. It's clear that it is still growing and now probably has well over 50 million enrollees. If the USDA numbers would have been down, so good for Obama, they would have released them before the election.
Mitt Romney was wrong about the 47%. It is now more than 50%, and for those people America is no longer about freedom, exceptionalism and self determination. It is about "free" stuff, dependency, what more can I take from someone else, and who is going to give it to me? The social and economic destruction left by this will be Obama's legacy as president. Can this damage be repaired or is it too late is now the question that faces us.
Donna Cole lives in Oak Creek and writes the blog MediaPolitical. Follow her on Facebook at Donna Cole's MediaPolitical and on Twitter @MediaPolitical.