The ‘Life of Julia’ on steroids

When President Obama ran for reelection in 2012, his campaign crafted a slideshow about a fictional woman named Julia and all the ways Obama’s first term would improve her life — and how Mitt Romney would quickly dismantle all that “progress.” The “Life of Julia” quickly became the subject of mockery over, as one critic described it, the Obama administration’s “cradle-to-grave welfare mentality.”

We know how that story ended — with the Obama-Biden team winning a second term and government only continuing to grow during the Trump administration that followed. But now less than a decade later, the Biden administration’s latest $1.8 trillion spending plan released today makes key elements of the Life of Julia seem almost like a limited-government dystopia.

Consider the following comparison of some of the
benefits extolled by the Obama campaign in 2012 and the Biden administration’s description
of the need for dramatic expansions in the very same benefits and programs
in 2021:

  2012 Obama Life of Julia     2021 Biden American Family Plan  
Access to child care At age 3 “Julia is
enrolled in a Head Start program to help get her ready for school. Because of
steps President Obama has taken to improve programs like this one, Julia
joins thousands of students across the country who will start kindergarten
ready to learn and succeed.”
“Unfortunately, many children, but
especially children of color and low-income children, do not have access to the
full range of high-quality pre-school programs available to their more
affluent peers. … President Biden is calling for a national partnership with
states to offer free, high-quality, accessible, and inclusive preschool to
all three-and four-year-olds…”
Quality of public education After Julia grows up, “Julia’s
son Zachary starts kindergarten. The public schools in their neighborhood
have better facilities and great teachers because of President Obama’s
investments in education and programs like Race to the Top.”
“President Biden is
calling on Congress to invest $9 billion in American teachers, addressing
shortages, improving training and supports for teachers, and boosting teacher
diversity. These investments will improve the quality of new teachers
entering the profession, increase retention rates and increase the number of
teachers of color, all of which will improve student outcomes like academic
achievement and high school graduation rates…”
Paying for college “As she prepares for her
first semester of college, Julia and her family qualify for President Obama’s
American Opportunity Tax Credit—worth up to $10,000 over four years. Julia is
also one of millions of students who receive a Pell Grant to help put a
college education within reach.”
Biden “is calling for an over $80
billion investment in Pell Grants. … Recognizing that access to postsecondary
education is not enough, the American Families Plan includes $62 billion to
invest in evidence-based strategies to strengthen completion and retention
rates at community colleges and institutions that serve students from our
most disadvantaged communities. This is alongside a $46 billion investment in
HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs.”
Affording health care “Thanks to Obamacare, her
health insurance is required to cover birth control and preventive care,
letting Julia focus on her work rather than worry about her health.”
“President Biden has a
plan to build on the Affordable Care Act and lower prescription drug costs
for everyone by letting Medicare negotiate prices, reducing health insurance
premiums and deductibles for those who buy coverage on their own, creating a
public option and the option for people to enroll in Medicare at age 60, and
closing the Medicaid coverage gap to help millions of Americans gain health
Improving maternal health care “Julia decides to have a
child. Throughout her pregnancy, she benefits from maternal checkups,
prenatal care, and free screenings under health care reform.”
“The Families Plan will
also invest in maternal health…”

Naturally, the list above doesn’t include the new and expanded benefits and programs the Biden administration is now proposing that Julia was never offered, including $3,600 annual child allowances, a new “national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program” providing “up to $4,000 a month,” and permanent extensions of the “Summer Pandemic-EBT” nutrition program and ACA premium reduction payments. All of which makes the Biden administration’s vision for America under its new American Family Plan look a lot like the Life of Julia on steroids.