Youth Should Focus on Freedom

Yet Generation Y flocked to support Obama last year

Judging by much of the post-election commentary, it would seem as if President Obama won the election by a historic margin with impressive wins in all major demographic categories.

However, this is untrue. Despite, to quote Mr. Obama’s stump speech, “the worst economy since the Great Depression,” he owes his election to outsized support from two groups — blacks and young voters.

His black support is easy to understand. The pride and enthusiasm Mr. Obama has instilled in the black community has never been seen before, and it is self-evident, apologies to Bill Clinton.

Having Mr. Obama as our first black president is another example of opportunity being available in America to anyone with drive and ambition. That is what this great country has always been about.

What I don’t understand is the lemminglike support he received from the Generation Y voters. Well more than 60 percent of these voters who are under 26 and were born from the early 1980s to the early 1990s helped elect Mr. Obama.

Mr. Obama’s collectivist agenda is the antithesis of the self-interests of Generation Y voters. If he succeeds in his major policy goals, Generation Y will be the first generation in America to grow up financially worse off than previous generations.

Take the federal debt (please, take it). As has been noted many times, Mr. Obama’s own budget figures foresee a doubling of the national debt were he to serve two full terms as president. To adults, this means we have more services on the cheap. However, to young people, it means this: You are paying for consumption that benefits someone else.

According to a recent USA Today survey, each American household already owes nearly $550,000 for its share of existing unfunded federal obligations. The Obama administration is borrowing trillions more that will also become the responsibility of Generation Y.

Young voters will each be responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars for the party that Mr. Obama is now throwing on credit. It is nothing less than generational theft for America to force its children to pay for things we ourselves are unwilling to pay for. The mystery is why so many Generation Y voters seem to accept it.

Another unknown deals with entitlements. Prior generations have come to rely on Social Security and Medicare for at least part of the answer to their retirement plans. Just ask yourself where our retired parents would be if we didn’t have access to these services.

The problem is that both programs are unsustainable in their current form, and the recession has made the situation far worse. The latest trustees’ report indicates that Social Security and Medicare will go broke in 2037 and 2017, respectively, long before Generation Y will become eligible for benefits. Yet Mr. Obama and his liberal Democratic allies resolutely refuse to do anything about the situation.

Indeed, they’re proposing a new health care entitlement that no one has any idea how to pay for. Mr. Obama and the Democrats have no intention of reforming these important programs because they’ll be out of office when it’s time to pay the bill. How will that possibly help Generation Y?

Finally, consider Mr. Obama’s view on economic management. He seems to have forgotten first principles. He never speaks forthrightly about the need for economic growth. Rather, like most redistributionists, he assumes it. Indeed, he believes the government can command it.

Thus, his policies are focused on less important goals such as fairness (tax increases), reducing carbon emissions (higher energy prices), stronger labor unions (card check), universality of benefits (health care reform) and just plain old political correctness (alternative energy).

In fact, a growing economy must be the overriding objective of government policy precisely because it is essential to creating the jobs we need for new entrants in the work force, for providing the tax revenues necessary to fund important government functions and for securing the higher standard of living that every generation in America has come to expect.

Mr. Obama may create a more equal society and a few more solar panels, but it will come at the expense of a dynamic economy and opportunity for more Americans, especially Generation Y.

It is the job of our party to help Generation Y look past the Jon Stewarts and Bill Mahers, the movie stars, the singers and the rest of the “in crowd” to understand that their economic future will not be enhanced by Mr. Obama’s big-government collectivist agenda.

Rather, as the most upwardly mobile segment of society with the longest time horizon, their self-interest is far more consistent with a system that focuses on young people’s ability to achieve their dreams and full potential. They are the chief beneficiaries of freedom and the natural allies of those devoted to the private sector and low taxes.

Frank Donatelli is chairman of GOPAC, the Republican political action committee.