CPAC: Where's The Health Care Panel?
CPAC officially begins today, and I'm ecstatic. It's the largest annual gathering of conservatives, leaving out Donald Trump and Dick Morris. While it should be an interesting conference, it hasn't been without some controversy. First, there was the banning of GOProud from sponsoring the event. Then, Donald Trump was invited to speak, while Gov. Chris Christie wasn't offered the same courtesy. Granted, I'm sure the the attendees of CPAC would agree, but if you invite the Donald, who has donated heavily to Democrats, then you have to bring Christie along. Also, and most importantly, there's no panel on health care.
Health care is the single biggest threat to our economic security. While CPAC does feature a panel on the Europeanization of America and whether a Balanced Budget Amendment can save the country, there's no specific panel on addressing health care. Are we throwing in the towel on ObamaCare? Forbes' Avik Roy noticed this overt omission in the program on February 26 in his column for National Review.
CPAC is hosting over a hundred events, on a multitude of worthy topics. But does the American Conservative Union, CPAC’s sponsor, believe that health spending is a serious problem? Apparently not: The group isn’t hosting a single event related to health-care policy. Nothing on Obamacare, nothing on Medicare reform, nothing on resisting the expansion of Medicaid in the states, nothing on the increasing unaffordability of health insurance for the middle class. Nothing.
Lest you think I’m unfairly picking on CPAC, the other major conservative gathering of the year — the National Review Institute Summit [last January] — also neglected to include a session on health-care policy.
For the progressive movement, by way of comparison, universal single-payer health care has been a tier-one policy goal for a hundred years. As a result, the average politically informed left-winger knows a lot more about these issues than his counterpart on the right does. Democratic politicians, in turn, receive a steady stream of support from the progressive grass roots when it comes to building the single-payer edifice, brick by brick.
Health care is not the only area of conservative under-investment. The U.S. Federal Reserve, headed by Ben Bernanke, has built up a $3 trillion balance sheet in the course of subsidizing Washington’s deficit spending. The central bank intends to continue to purchase $85 billion a month in U.S.-government debt and mortgage-backed securities for the foreseeable future.
The president has punted on this issue, saying that balancing the budget isn't a "priority." As Steven T. Dennis wrote for Roll Call yesterday:
President Barack Obama told House Republicans Wednesday that balancing the budget is not his top priority, lawmakers leaving the meeting between the president and the GOP conference early told reporters.
Rep. Mike D. Rogers of Alabama reported that the president diplomatically said “no” to a balanced budget, explaining that eliminating the deficit is not his priority. Instead, the president said he is worried that the deep spending cuts that would be required to balance the budget would slow the nation’s economic recovery.
Guy Benson of Townhall also wrote that the Democrats' budget could increase federal spending.
It's now widely accepted that Harry Reid and Patty Murray's document will call for approximately $1 trillion in tax increases, but will never come to balance. A number of articles on the yet-unseen document simply accept Democrats' preliminary claim that their blueprint will include $1.85 trillion in deficit reduction. Will it, though? Back to Erik Wasson's piece inThe Hill:
[Senator Patty] Murray argues that her budget cuts $1.85 trilion from deficits over ten years. But once the sequester cuts are turned off, Murray’s budget appears to reduce deficits by about $800 billion, using the Congressional Budget Office’s baseline. The Murray budget does not contain net spending cuts with the sequester turned off. The details of Murray’s budget came hours after House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) released his budget, which reduces tax rates and slashes spending much more deeply that Murray’s budget. The Ryan budget would balance in 10 years without raising taxes and by reducing spending over the next decade by $5.7 trillion compared to the CBO baseline.
It's also loaded with gimmicks and phantom savings.
Now, the panels on balancing the budget and the Europeanization of America may touch upon those issues, but it isn't specific enough. As we've known since the health care fight came to a climax in the spring of 2010, solving this issue will be integral to balancing our budget. Democrats don't seem interested. In fact, they can't be since the dependency agenda is part of their core beliefs. Conservatives have an opening, which they can exploit to once again portray the Democrats as an unhinged, tax and spend party. Furthermore, the ideas garnered from more investments into this issue, as stipulated by Roy, can have huge dividends – like Republicans owning the fact that they saved American health care.
However, at the present time, we only have Rep. Paul Ryan – and his ideas – as the economic foundation for conservatism in the 21st century. We need a lot more thinkers, and policies that don't just fall flat right out of the gate. I like Paul Ryan's plan to balance the budget in ten years, but it's not resonating with the folks we need to win elections.
And don't miss Next Generation's members-only coverage of CPAC 2013 — featuring former Congressman Allen West and Michelle Fields. Click here to learn more.