The American love/hate relationship with socialism

Much has been made of the CBS interview in which President Barack Obama said failing to raise the debt limit by Aug. 2 would mean 70 million government aid checks may not go out on Aug. 3.

A couple weeks ago, President Barack Obama gave a now-infamous interview to CBS, in which he said that, if the debt ceiling is not raised by Aug. 2, government checks might not be mailed: “Well, this is not just a matter of Social Security checks. These are veterans’ checks; these are folks on disability and their checks. There are about 70 million checks that go out… I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd, if we haven’t resolved this issue.” A few days after that statement, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said the number was closer to 80 million.

The debate over the national deficit and debt limit has brought to the forefront a fundamental split in American political ideologies: What is the proper role of the Federal government in the lives of citizens? Regardless of where you stand on this issue, the fact remains that millions of people depend on the Federal government for some or all of their income.

And very few citizens are aware of exactly how far the reach of government stretches these days.

“The figures used by Obama and Geithner were, if anything, too low. They relied on Treasury Department figures from June that include Social Security (56 million checks that month), veterans benefits (4.5 million checks), and spending on non-defense contractors and vendors (1.8 million checks),” read an article in The Washington Post.

“But those numbers do not include reimbursements to Medicare providers and vendors (100 million claims in June), and electronic transfers to the 21 million households receiving food stamps,” the article read. “Nor do they include most spending by the Defense Department, which has a payroll of 6.4 million active and retired employees and, on average, pays nearly 1 million invoices and 660,000 travel expense claims per month.”

The article referred to a column written for conservative website American Thinker, which lamented the subtle spread of government: “I have bad news for conservatives who think Obama is leading the nation down the path to socialism: the barn door is open and the cows are long gone. Obama is not leading the nation to socialism; we are a socialist nation and have been for some time.”

However, Bill Frenzel, a former Republican congressman from Minnesota, explained in an interview with The Washington Post the complicated duality of American thinking on this issue: “If you’re a compassionate liberal, you say, ‘Isn’t it wonderful we’re helping everybody,’ and if you’re a constitutional conservative, you say: ‘How did the government get into all these things? I don’t see these things in the Constitution; it’s bewildering, get rid of it.’”

Personal Liberty

Special To Personal Liberty

You Sound Off! is written by our readers and appears the last Wednesday of each month. If you would like to submit an article or letter to the editor for consideration for You Sound Off!, send it to by the Friday before the last Wednesday of the month. To be considered, a submission should be 750 words or less and must include the writer's name, address and a telephone number. Only the writer's name will be published. Anonymous submissions will not be considered.

Join the Discussion

Comment Policy: We encourage an open discussion with a wide range of viewpoints, even extreme ones, but we will not tolerate racism, profanity or slanderous comments toward the author(s) or comment participants. Make your case passionately, but civilly. Please don't stoop to name calling. We use filters for spam protection. If your comment does not appear, it is likely because it violates the above policy or contains links or language typical of spam. We reserve the right to remove comments at our discretion.