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Obama’s Embarrassing Embrace of Cuban Socialism

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The U.S. news media were gleeful when President Obama maneuvered Cuban leader Raul Castro into responding to questions from the press during his recent trip to Cuba. The press hailed it as one of the positive things that can happen as a result of reestablishing normal relations between the two countries.

The American media, however, wasn’t as enthusiastic over the way that Castro, in turn, skewered Obama on the issue of socialism. The press glossed over that occurrence and then quickly moved on.

But it was a telling episode, in that it revealed the life of the lie that Obama and his fellow liberals and, for that matter, American conservatives, have long been living here in the United States. It’s a life that entails an ostensible embrace of “free enterprise” while, in reality, embracing the same socialist economic philosophy that the Castro brothers have embraced in Cuba.

Castro bragged about the two most important government programs that are at the core of the Cuban Revolution: education and healthcare. Under Cuba’s socialist system, the government provides both education and healthcare.

What could Obama say in response? He couldn’t say: “Mr. Castro, I disagree with you. Government has no business being involved in education or healthcare. That’s not the function of government in a free society. Education and healthcare are too important to be placed in the hands of the government, which only ends up destroying these important parts of our lives. Education and healthcare should be left to the free market, which produces the best of everything. That’s what Americans stand for — a free-market, private-property way of life.”

If Obama had said that, Castro could easily have exposed him as a liar. Castro could have pointed out that the U.S. government has a Department of Education, just like Cuba does, and that it too is heavily involved in education. He could have pointed out that governments at the state and local level are involved in education through public schooling, charter schools, and even government-supervised homeschooling.  He could have reminded Obama about state-supported colleges and universities in the United States. He could have pointed to Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare to show that government involvement in healthcare is as important to Americans as it is to Cubans. He could have told Obama that the only difference between Cuba and the United States is one of degree — that is, that America still has a lot of catching up to do because Cuba has proudly embraced socialism to a much greater extent that America has.

Maybe Castro decided to go easy on Obama because he could have made the same point with Social Security, another core socialist program in Cuba. He could have pointed out that the United States and Cuba maintain a shared devotion to socialism given that both countries believe that it’s the role of government to take care of older people.

Isn’t it a shame that an American president is unable to travel into a socialist country and defend things like the free market and private-property order? Isn’t it a shame that Obama couldn’t point out to Castro that the American people rejected socialist programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, and a Department of Education for more than 150 years? Isn’t it a shame he couldn’t tell the Cubans that America’s embrace of socialism was one of the worst mistakes America has ever made and that it ended up destroying the finest educational and healthcare systems in history? Isn’t it a shame that Obama could not defend America’s heritage of economic liberty in a socialist country?

It’s just a sign of how things have gone so badly awry here in the United States. The avowed socialist Raul Castro took advantage of Obama by placing him in the embarrassing position of embracing the same socialism that Castro embraces.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.