By Debra J. Saunders
“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” President John F. Kennedy famously said in his inaugural address.
In his bid for re-election, the hope-and-change president, Barack Obama, clearly has decided to ditch JFK’s country-first approach. The Obama-Biden campaign is all about what this country can do for voters.
Last week, the Obama campaign introduced “The Life of Julia,” a slide show about a fictional American that contrasts and compares the programs and services that would be available for her from age 3 under an Obama administration with those that would be available under a Mitt Romney White House.
GOP budget hawk Paul Ryan called the “Julia” infographic “creepy” and “demeaning.”
He’s right. Creepy? Until her son goes to kindergarten, Julia’s cartoon world does not depict any males, except one, as shown in this quote: “Under President Obama: Julia decides to have a child.”
Demeaning? The slide show sends the message that Julia needs Obama to protect her from cradle to grave — which, in Julia’s world, means from Head Start to Medicare.
When Julia does succeed, it’s not because she worked hard and prevailed but because a paternalistic program was there to support her. She gets into college, for example, because her high school is enrolled in Obama’s Race to the Top education reform.
When Julia graduates, she easily pays off her student loans because “Obama capped income-based federal student loan payments and kept interest rates low.” Under what Team Obama calls a “Romney/Ryan” budget, however, student loan interest rates double. PolitiFact.com found that claim to be “false,” as Romney supports keeping Stafford loan interest rates at 3.4 percent.
What happens if Julia cannot pay off her low-interest loans because she cannot get a good job in a moribund economy? “The Life of Julia” does not illustrate its heroine moving back into the home of her parents, whom we never see.
Does Julia ever pay federal income tax? Don’t know.
The Tax Foundation estimates that 41 percent of tax filers pay no federal income taxes. The infographic is mute on how much Julia pays in taxes. Thus, all benefits appear as if conjured by a wave of Obama’s wand, not thanks to American taxpayers.
“The Life of Julia” closes when Julia is 67. She retires and signs up for Social Security. With no fear of running out of money, thanks to Obama, Julia is free to volunteer at a community garden. Under Romney, the infographic warns, Julia’s benefits could be cut by 40 percent. Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler found that frame to be “fairly misleading” — as the Social Security system is on the road to insolvency. Social Security will need to be cut one way or another; the only question is when and by whom.
Back to Julia and Obama’s role as her champion in what Democrats like to call the GOP’s war against women. “From cracking down on gender discrimination in health care costs to fighting for equal pay,” the infographic ends, “President Obama is standing up for women throughout their lives.” Yes, he’s standing up for women as men have done for millenniums: He’ll say anything.
Debra J. Saunders is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.