Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal carried a blistering editorial about President Obama’s 11-page effort to combine elements of the House and Senate bills to “reform” — read, reduce to a government-run satrapy — American health care. Entitled “ObamaCare at Ramming Speed,” the editorial cites chapter and verse to show how the “the President’s plan” “manages to take the worst of both the House and Senate bills and combine them into something more destructive. It includes more taxes, more subsidies and even less cost control than the Senate bill. And it purports to fix the special-interest favors in the Senate bill not by eliminating them—but by expanding them to everyone.”
Not for the first time since January 20, 2009, I found myself thinking of Governor Mitch Daniels’s characterization of the Obama administration’s “shock-and-awe statism.” “Ramming speed,” indeed. The phrase is not only a play on the name of Obama’s singular chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel; it also accurately describes the heedless velocity with which the administration approaches the tasks of governing. It turns out that the family Toyota is not the only thing with its accelerator stuck to the floor board.
The Journal editorial is well worth pondering, assuming your stomach — and your blood pressure — can take it. Good though “ObamaCare at Ramming Speed” is as a title, “Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid” captures something else about the emotional wallop of the column. Even as the Obama administration shows itself racing to revolutionize one aspect of American society after the next, so it demonstrates once again that socialism is only another name for paternalism, which, with Tocqueville, we may file under the heading of “Democratic Despotism.” Remember Obama’s promise in October of 2008 that he was on the threshold of “fundamentally transforming the United States of America”? Here we go. You don’t “fundamentally transform” a capitalist country that puts a premium on entrepreneurship and individual liberty without undermining capitalism, innovation, and freedom.
Hence no one should be surprised at the aroma of coercion that is such a prominent feature of Obama’s various proposals to remake this country. At the heart of his “cap-and-trade” initiatives, for example, were provisions that would impose ruinous regulation on American industry even as it would make energy more expensive for American citizens.