What About Julia? A True Story

I spent the past weekend celebrating my daughter Amelia’s third birthday. One of the stops we made was in the local Build-A-Bear store to buy her a new teddy bear. While we were there we ran into a woman, let’s call her “Julia”, who worked in the daycare location where we used to send Amelia.

What has President Obama really done to help the real ‘Julias’ of the world; is it the “free” community college plan?

It turns out that Julia works in the Build-A-Bear store, along with the daycare center, all the while holding down a third job to make ends meet. Julia kept smiling the entire time we were in the Build-A-Bear, and I admired her for doing so, despite the obvious fatigue showing on her face. Watching a fatigued Julia work despite her exhaustion reminded me that Julia lives in the real world, and in the real world, real policies have real implications for real people. My interaction with Julia, who is a flesh-and-blood person living in the real world, makes me wonder what happened to the faux-Julia from the 2012 Obama interactive web campaign ad (note: this ad has been removed from the campaign website)? Do you remember her? It was a campaign ad designed to highlight the government’s involvement through Obama’s policies, in the life of a fictitious woman named Julia.

The Julia I ran into in the Build-A-Bear already has access to student loans for college and, if President Obama was honest with her about the additional taxes which will be taken out of her three part-time paychecks to pay for “free” community college whether she attends community college or not, I’m not sure she would be so willing to take the deal. If President Obama was even more transparent and explained to her how excessive government involvement in the student-loan business has been a primary-driver of the elevated costs of a college education, she would probably be even less likely to look favorably upon the deal.

What about Obamacare; surely that helped Julia? It’s likely that Julia has to work three separate part-time jobs because Obamacare has incentivized companies to move positions from full to part-time. Obamacare’s mandates, which redefine “full-time” work as a 30-hour work week has, as most government programs do, created a tidal wave of unintended consequences which birthed an incentive for companies to make the Julias of the world part-time and to reduce their hours to under 30 per week.

President Obama may talk a big game about young single-women and all of the beneficial policy prescriptions he has filled for them but his real legacy is frightening. President Obama had lorded over an economic recovery which ranks as the worst in modern times which, when combined with the devastation in middle-class incomes during the Obama years, has forced the Julias of America to trade a future of boundless opportunity for a present consisting of paycheck-to-paycheck survival. President Obama has also forced our Julias to trade a few dollars in savings on readily available contraceptives for hundreds of extra dollars per month in inflated healthcare premiums as a result of Obamacare red tape and mandates.

The Julias of America, working those part-time jobs to stay above water as the waves come crashing in, have been celebrated by this President when it comes to his rhetoric, and abandoned by him when it comes to policy leadership. As conservatives, we will always be at a tactical disadvantage to the far-left purveyors of that failed ideology because they insist on telling the American people about all of the “free” stuff they are going to “give away.” Being a conservative means telling the American people the truth about the real costs of “free” government giveaways, both in terms of their tax dollars and in terms of the damaging effects on the free market through the distorting effects of government third-party-payer models. These are never easy conversations to have but, if we lose elections on the right side of the truth, did we really lose?

As I watched “Julia” work to keep those kids happy in the Build-A-Bear store, despite the obvious exhaustion in her eyes, my frustration grew because I knew that it didn’t have to be this way. If we could just get more money in Julia’s pockets through tax cuts, if we could get Julia the healthcare freedom she needs to make her own cost and quality decisions with regard to her healthcare future and, if we could get the government anchor off of the backs of the small Build-A-Bear businesses that expend precious resources complying with their government masters in the regulatory, tax, and healthcare compliance front, then maybe the Julias of America could trade the look of exhaustion while working their third job of the week, for a look of satisfaction that a better tomorrow is right around the corner.

EDITORS NOTE: This column and the featured image originally appeared in the Conservative Review.