Is Mo Brooks Our Lord Brougham?
So is Rep. Mo Brooks (R.-AL) our Henry Brougham (1778-1868), 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux? In 1816, the British lawmaker moved in Parliament that the records of income tax should be destroyed in order to protect posterity even from hearing of it.
The enormity of the institution, Brougham knew, would be dispiriting to future generations. Perhaps — but only perhaps — the foul practice was an expedient justifed by the enormous expense exacted by the Napoleonic wars. But with Bonaparte safely stowed in the Atlantic fastness of St. Helena, the civilized world could now not only dispense with this ostentaious form of fiscal cannibalism but also erase the very memory of the accursed habit by which the state helped itself to the substance of its people. The Romans pronounced the curse of damnatio memoriae on particularly egregious emperors and other public officials, Tiberius's right-hand-man Sejanus, for example, not to mention Commodus and Elagabalus.
The hilariously misnamed "Affordable Care Act," aka ObamaCare, is probably the least popular piece of legislation since Prohibition. Obama did not so much engineer its passage as shove it down the throats of the American people, bribing, cajoling, threatening lawmakers to get on board with this heinous intrusion of the state into the precincts of everyday life, finally passing the bill without a single Republican vote.
I am not going to insinuate myself into the yammering blame game that has followed on Speaker of the House Paul Ryan's failure to pass his alternative to ObamaCare last week: Was it because the bill was deficient? Because he lacked the requisite political skils to muster support? Because of the intransigence of the so-called "Freedom Caucus" (which the commentator Hugh Hewitt amusingly called the "Area 51 Caucus," in search of legislative flying saucers)? Or maybe it was only the petulant cussedness of the Democrats who have refashioned themselves the party of obstruction? I don't know the answers to those questions.
But I like Mo Brooks's approach to the problem, which in some ways is similar to Lord Brougham's approach to the evil of the income tax, in some ways akin to Alexander the Great's solution to the problem of the Gordian Knot. On Friday, Brooks filed the "ObamaCare Repeal Act" in Congress. ObamaCare itself runs to thousands of pages. Brooks's remediation runs one sentence:
"Effective as of Dec. 31, 2017, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such Act are restored or revived as if such Act had not been enacted."
C'est tout. Finis. End of show.
Will it work? Ask yourself this: Do our duly elected representatives really want to repeal ObamaCare? After all, it encompasses some 20 percent of the U.S. economy. Think of the opportunities for graft, for deal-making, for influence-peddling! Think of the opportunities for extending the reach of the government into the lives of the citizens! Doctors, hospitals, other health-care facilities, pharmaceutical companies, and manufacturers of medical equipment: all now transformed into wards of the state, i.e., subject to the whims and regulations of — yep, you guessed it — those very duly elected representatives: what an opportunity! Imagine if someone had told Lord Brougham that, one day in the future in a country pretending to be a democracy, the state required its subjects to buy health care insurance on pain of a special levy if they failed to do so!