Answer this question, please: If you believed a candidate for president could give you something valuable for which you wouldn't have to pay, would you vote for him or her? You probably would. You'd be even more likely to do so if you were persuaded the people footing the bill wouldn't miss any of the money taken from them to win your vote.
Now you know why Barack Obama is so confident he can win re-election as president if he just continues handing out goodies and maintaining "the rich" will pay for them all.
About 46 percent of U.S. households didn't pay income taxes in 2011, according to a study by The Urban Institute and the Brookings Tax Policy Center. Why should they care what it costs to run the government and, just as important, come up with new programs they like at no cost to them? The percentage, by the way, is expected to top 50 within the next few years. At that point the people who pay the bills will be entirely under the political control of those who don't.
The president doesn't object to calling the health care law "Obamacare" because he wants the 15.9 million or so Americans who will get Medicaid health insurance through the law to go to the polls and thank him for it. That could make the difference for him in swing states. In Ohio, about 667,000 people will be added to Medicaid if Obamacare goes through. In Florida, the number is 951,000.
To voters grateful to the president for Obamacare, add those who got cash for clunkers, new insulation in their homes, temporary construction work through the "stimulus," and other "free" stuff. And if the White House needs money to publicize all the favors Obama has done for voters, it can turn to deep-pockets folks who were bailed out of idiotic business decisions during the president's first term.
But let's go back to who pays. Medicaid would be a good place to start. During the first few years of the expansion - in states where governors and legislatures go along with it - the federal government will pay the entire bill. After that, the states will bear large shares of the cost. Throughout the nation, that could cost tens of billions of dollars, and because state governments can't engage in deficit spending, taxpayers will have to cough up more money. In other words, your state income tax bill will go up.
There's another possibility, and we're getting a preview of it in West Virginia. Just a few weeks ago, state officials announced cutbacks in a program that helps low-income parents pay for child care. Many of those who get it need the help so they can hold down jobs.
Why were the cutbacks ordered? The existing Medicaid program's costs to West Virginia have gone up by about $200 million a year. Money to pay that bill has to come from somewhere. Though some of the child care program cuts have been reversed, state officials warn they may have to reinstate them, even make them deeper. If so, thank the president for making it tougher for you to find child care so you can hold down a job.
That's some of where the cost of "free" government programs such as Obama is handing out comes from.
What about higher taxes on "the rich?" Many of those Obama wants to raid are small business people - folks who take big risks to open mom and pop stores or manufacturing enterprises. About 50 percent of the small businesses established each year fail, according to the Small Business Administration. One study found that only 29 percent of small businesses founded in 1992 were still open in 2002. Those who fail often are doomed to spending years, even decades, paying off debts.
In addition to telling them their vision and hard work isn't the reason for any success they may enjoy, Obama says they ought to pay higher taxes. Lots of people swallow that, hook, line and sinker.
Obama's message - again, one that seems to appeal to many voters - is that there's something wrong with being successful in America, that those who make it big here ought to be penalized. The craziest part of that is he seems to be getting away with it.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Mike Myer is executive editor of The Intelligencer and the Wheeling News-Register. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org