Welfare programs are hard to reconcile with the notion that politicians are motivated primarily by electoral considerations, since these programs benefit the most politically marginalized citizens. I present evidence to resolve this apparent puzzle, documenting how welfare can indeed pay dividends at the ballot box. Taking advantage of the decade-long rollout of the American Food Stamp Program, I estimate the effect of this new benefit on election outcomes. Overall, I find that Democrats gained votes in counties where the program had been implemented, primarily through mobilization of new supporters rather than the conversion of political opponents. Reflecting the implementation challenges that plagued FSP in its early years, I also show that Democrats paid an initial electoral price when the program was first introduced, but that this penalty faded quickly as Democratic candidates began to see significant, persistent gains only a few years later.
Electoral Consequences of Welfare State Expansion: The Case of the Food Stamp Program by Vladimir Kogan :: SSRNDecember 9, 2016
In 2008, when Obama was running, Max Baucus, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, held an event entitled “Prepare to Launch”. It had a video of a rocket ship blasting off and everything. What he was launching was health reform. That meant Obama knew the powerful chair of the powerful committee that would be responsible for any policy that had to raise revenue wanted health reform atop the agenda.
On November 12th, just days after Obama was elected president, Baucus published a “white paper” detailing the health bill he wanted to see. Later, his committee drafted the bill that ultimately passed into law. The Affordable Care Act gets called Obamacare, but in truth, it’s at least as much Baucuscare.
What Gruber did, specific language aside, the offensive language aside, what he did was tell the truth. Legislation always needs collective ignorance about many elements of it in order to move forward. I promise you, there was not one person who voted for the Affordable Care Act who could tell you more than 30% of what was in it. I had the pleasure of coming on this set, sitting in this chair, and announcing to America that there were fifteen taxes in the Affordable Care Act that no one knew about because they were developed in secret as they always are by Senate Finance Committee staff and as soon as Max Baucus’ work product was finally public we then knew that. But through the course of that debate, those fifteen taxes did not get debated.
All of #GruberGate in Two Minutes
In other words, an overwhelming number of the ostensibly independent statements or scores that were made or published in support of Obamacare —from Krugman, Klein, Brownstein, the DNC, Reid, Pelosi, Sebelius, and even, to a significant degree, the CBO itself — were traceable to the support of one man and his model. And that man was Jonathan Gruber, who was secretly under contract with the Obama administration.
Perhaps it’s time to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a winning conservative alternative that would lower costs, secure liberty, and make it possible for any American who wants to buy health insurance to be able to do so. And perhaps it’s time to make sure that Jonathan Gruber’s influence over the CBO’s scoring of Obamacare, and of Obamacare alternatives, doesn’t extend into the next Congress.
Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., said he advised President Obama against taking up health care reform following a special election in 2010 that changed Democrats fortunes in the Senate, saying that he should have instead turned his focus to financial reform.
The 24/7 news cycle left little time to provide historical context, but it was a milestone a century in the making. Presidents as disparate as Teddy Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton had all tried to do this and come up short.
But we got there in 2010. And then all hell broke loose. Yes, we paid a political price, and some good folks went down to defeat because they’d put their careers on the line for health care. Good for them. One day a vote for health reform will be remembered the same way as a vote for the Civil Rights Act or the Clinton deficit reduction package of 1993, because when you’re on the right side of history, and you do the right thing despite the heat of the moment, ultimately the pendulum swings back your way.