Krauthammer: Food stamps a great success for liberals

Commentator examines the rising food stamp trend in America


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 10, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: "Back of the Book" segment tonight, in the year 2000, the Food Stamp program cost the federal government $17 billion. Last year, Food Stamps cost 76 billion. Seventeen to 76. An astronomical rise under the Obama administration. So what does this tell us?

Joining us from Washington, FOX News political analyst Charles Krauthammer.

So I don't think this is all economic. I mean, you know, Obama administration is going to say bad economic times, recession kicks in, people need the food. But you know, going from 17 billion to 76 billion, come on, something is in play here. What is it?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, you're clearly right. We haven't had a quadrupling of the number of people who are hungry in the country. That's what the Food Stamp program was meant to be.

What we have, we have a political ideology in power, in Washington, of liberalism, which believes that a measure of success of government is how many people are, quote, unquote, "helped." Sort of look at it another way, how many people it makes dependent on its administrations.

And, therefore, for them this is a great success. They want to see sort of a natural American aversion to taking a handout, you know, sort of whittle down, and then people aren't so proud -- I guess that's the word they would use -- to take aid.

Now, the conservative view is, if you're destitute, if you're really in bad shape, if you're either too old to work or too young, disabled, psychiatric illness, or just the worst luck in a world, of course, society has an obligation to help you. That's the safety net mentality.

But the idea is to free as much enterprise money and energy in the free-enterprise system so people can sustain themselves, and those who can't you help.

But the liberal idea is much more like the European social democratic idea, that the role of government is to sustain you, sustain as many people as you can, to make sure there are no risks in life. All the smooth -- all the rough edges are smoothed out. And that's why you get the growth of these kinds of programs.

O'REILLY: All right. Now, there's a difference, though, between largess, government largess on the liberal end and really sincerely wanting to help people, and a cynical calculation that the more people we hook on government perks, the more people will vote for us. It's not the same thing.

So you say the Obama administration, where are they? Are they the good people and the compassionate people or are they the cynical people?

KRAUTHAMMER: I think they are the good people. They are also the cynical people.

O'REILLY: They're both?

KRAUTHAMMER: There is no doubt -- there is no doubt that liberals, for example, do not want means testing in Social Security. Now, why not? The liberals are the ones who say you should have progressive taxation, that the rich ought to pay more and the poor less. So why not have the benefits of Social Security, the rich get less and the poor get more, which is what conservatives have been arguing for years? But they don't want that.

The reason is that they may lose political support from the people at the high end. As long as it's a universal program, they'll get the most support.

But I would offer a third position. It isn't only the naive, and it isn't only the cynical. But there's something in between. Liberals are the party of government. Liberals are the ones who are the experts. And they sincerely believe that having the money and benefits and the resources of society distributed by them, the experts, the professors, Ph.D.'s, the political class, is superior and more -- and better for society than if the private sector and the market, the invisible hand, distributes the resources and the wealth. So that's the underlying idea.

O'REILLY: Well, I always ask -- I always ask this question to liberals who tell me that the government does have a responsibility to provide cradle to grave, even for people who don't want to work or won't cooperate, whatever it may be. What is compassionate about bankrupting the United States of America? What is compassionate about driving up the debt to the extent where this country is in a precarious position economically and perhaps militarily down the road? What's compassionate about putting every citizen in danger for this pie-in-the-sky theoretical stuff?

KRAUTHAMMER: I agree with you entirely. Look, in the end, when you look at Europe, which is the entitlement society, it's exactly where we are headed. American liberalism wants to head us in that direction.

O'REILLY: Bankruptcy? The liberals want us to be bankrupt?

KRAUTHAMMER: But that's -- they don't want us, but they somehow imagine that the bounty of the past will continue. They will be able to soak the rich and pay it off. They have no understanding of what's going to happen. Even though we've been given this historical gift of seeing what's happening in Europe ahead of time, so it's a warning.

But there's a second argument. It isn't only that it's unsustainable, which is obviously is, and we're going to hit the wall on this, especially on medical expenditures. But it's also that, even if it weren't unsustainable, let's assume that we have the biggest discovery of gold and oil in history, and it was all here. Nonetheless, it changes the nature of society.

O'REILLY: Right.

KRAUTHAMMER: And it changes the fiber of the people if you are living off the tit of government.

O'REILLY: It weakens personal motivation.

Charles, I've got to run. Thank you.

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