Obama AmeriCorps 'Volunteers' Actually Paid Employees

Thursday, 09 Apr 2009 04:08 PM

By Ronald Kessler

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Under the guise of promoting volunteerism, President Obama and congressional Democrats have created a massive government program that will push their agenda.

The legislation that Obama is about to sign will triple the size of the existing AmeriCorps program over the next eight years to 175,000 people. The idea is to enlist so-called volunteers to focus on education, health care, clean energy, and veterans.

The expansion will cost nearly $6 billion over the next five years. But contrary to Obama’s claim that the program will promote volunteerism, it is in fact another massive government employment program. The volunteers, who are between the ages of 18 and 26, will receive $11,800 a year to cover their living expenses and another $5,350 toward college costs or student loans, for a total of $17,500.

That is $3,526 more than if those who sign up for the volunteer program were hired by private companies or local governments to provide the same services and were paid the minimum wage. Meanwhile, the federal civilian workforce is being increased by more than 13 percent.

“We’re talking about a government program that will hire a quarter of a million, supposedly as volunteers that we pay,” Sen. Jim DeMint, chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, tells Newsmax. “That will be the 14th largest employer in the country, assuming the federal government can actually manage this thing.”

DeMint says knows what volunteerism is all about. He has served on a local United Way board.

“I know there are thousands of volunteer groups out in every community,” DeMint says. “That’s what works in America; government doesn’t work. Civic duty is something you can’t get from government.”

In the past, AmeriCorps volunteers have been put to work to promote the causes of Democrats, such as lobbying against the “three-strikes” anti-crime legislation in California or for expanding housing subsidies and rent control.

There is a place for paid volunteers. The Peace Corps spreads goodwill in foreign countries where Americans normally would not go to help. But in the U.S., the private sector and true volunteer organizations help people far more efficiently than would a government program. Obama’s unsuccessful attempt to cap tax deductions for charitable contributions shows how little he understands the powerful force of real volunteer organizations.

By putting a vast army of young people on the government payroll, the Democrats are expanding their reach by teaching the young that government is the answer to every problem. Instead of giving young people an incentive to help others through the free enterprise system or though genuine charity work, Obama and congressional Democrats are creating a make-work boondoggle that will further their control over the political process.

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
e-mail. Go here now.

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