The Obama campaign has a new angle on the election, presenting the Life of Julia. Below are 9 truths about this questionable story.
Age 3 – Head Start
The Head Start program supposedly helps Julia “get ready for school.”
Truth: There is little evidence that kids in Head Start do better in school. The center-left Brookings Institution reported that “children’s attendance in Head Start has no demonstrable impact on their academic, socio-emotional, or health status at the end of first grade.”
While Brookings concludes the program needs to be reformed, there is another view. The federal government has had over 45 years to get the program right, spending billions a year on it. Let’s rip the band-aid off now. Education and care of children is primarily a matter for families. To the extent that government is involved, it is a local and state matter. Federal involvement is inherently more wasteful and less effective.
Age 17 – Race to the Top
Race to the Top allows Julia to better prepare for college?
Truth: Race to the Top is a small program which does little for schools. The total spending of about $4 billion is spread unevenly over the nation’s roughly 50 million school children. That’s $80 per child when we spend something like $10,000/year. It also increases the already-excessive emphasis on testing, even for pre-schoolers.
Age 18 – College
The Obama campaign claims it’s helping make college more affordable.
Truth: The $10,000 tax credit over four years amounts to $2500 per year. But the cost of many colleges has increased by more than $2500 in the past four years. Pell Grants suffer a similar problem – they don’t provide that much money and not all students can get them. According to government statistics (Excel), half of applicants were denied and the average grant was $3700 in 2009-2010.
The harder truth is this: “Colleges and universities increase tuition to capture increases in federal and state financial aid.” So says Minding the Campus.
Age 22: Surgery
Julia needs surgery and, thanks to President Obama, she’s covered by her parents’ health insurance.
Truth: Unfortunately for Julia and her family, her father lost his job and his health insurance insurance two years ago. Her mother works, but her low-wage job doesn’t provide health insurance. While President Obama blames this on former President Bush, his own policies have utterly failed to get the economy going. His presidency has been little different from the Bush years, with Race to the Top being a follow-on to No Child Left Behind, continued wars, deficits and reckless federal spending.
If, on the other hand, Julia’s parents both have jobs with health insurance, Julia probably did not qualify for the Head Start program and other education programs mentioned earlier in the story because her parents make too much money. And with co-pays, deductibles, and the rapid increase in the cost of medical care, Julia paid as much for her surgery today as she would have 10 years ago without insurance.
Age 23 – Jobs
Julia gets equal pay because of “the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act”
Truth: This would be funny if it wasn’t so sad, and it’s perhaps the most glaring sign that the Obama campaign doesn’t get what’s going on in the country outside the DC Bubble.
From the AP – 1 in 2 new graduates are jobless or underemployed
A weak labor market already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don’t fully use their skills and knowledge. Young adults with bachelor’s degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs – waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example – and that’s confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans.
Julia is starting her career as a barista at Starbucks, part-time without insurance. And statistics show that despite decades of federal efforts, the wage gap persists with women making 80% of what men earn.
Age 25 – Student Loans
Julia gets lower interest rates on her student loans.
Truth: This Julia is amazing. First her family is so poor that she’s in head start and getting all kinds of assistance for being poor. Then her parents have jobs with health insurance so they can’t be all that poor. But she gets federal aid for school so they’re poor again. Then she gets a job as a web designer after college so she must be doing well, but now she can’t afford to pay her student loans without help. This is making me dizzy.
On the substance of the proposed cut in interest rates, it will save Julia a whopping $7 per month according to the Wall Street Journal.
Age 27 – Birth Control
Despite four years working full-time as a web designer, Julia needs government help to pay for birth control.
Truth: Web designers make an average of $62K. Maybe Julia can come up with the $300 or so a year that it costs. But even more stunning is that an awful lot of health insurance plans covered birth control before Obamacare and it’s required by 28 states. Julia probably would have birth control coverage in her health care package regardless of Obamacare. Web designers often work for tech companies that tend to be more progressive.
Age 31: Pregnancy
Julia gets free health care for her pregnancy
Truth: We again see Julia flipping back and forth from a successful web designer child of successful parents to a poor struggling waif who needs government to take care of her. She’s been working full-time as a web designer now for eight years now. Wasn’t the health care package from her job covering all of this long before Obama became President?
Age 42: Julia Starts a Small Business
Julia starts a web business and gets loans from the Small Business Administration
Truth: Since when do web businesses start with government loans? This one really bothers me because I started my own web business. Web businesses are generally inexpensive to start up. And there’s no shortage of venture capitalists willing to invest in web businesses. Julia now has 20 years of experience in web design, and one would hope she saved some money along the way. Why can’t Julia fund her own business? Why can’t she find financing in the private sector.
The government loan thing is particularly disturbing given the President’s history with Solyndra, a government loan gone bad. And the SBA has had its share of problems.
The Obama campaign’s Life of Julia is just another in a long line of political junk stories from both sides. At least Joe the Plumber was a real person, even if flawed.