July 21, 2009

This is Not Pragmatism

Rich Lowry - An Ideologue in a Hurry

As with the stimulus package, Obama’s health-care plan depends on speed. More important than any given provision, more important than any principle, more important than sound legislating is the urgent imperative to Do It Now.

Do it now, before anyone can grasp what exactly it is that Congress is passing. Do it now, before the overpromising and the dishonest justifications can be exposed. Do it now, before Obama’s poll numbers return to Earth and make it impossible to slam through ramshackle government programs concocted on the run. Do it now, because simply growing government is more important than the practicalities of any new program.

The stimulus partly drives the rush on health care. The program was so ill-considered and so festooned with irrelevant liberal priorities as the price of hustling it through Congress that it becomes more of a drag for Obama every day. So health care has to be rushed through before Obama pays the full price for the failure of his previous rush job. Haste — and waste — makes for more haste.

Obama cultivated an image of cool during the campaign. Unrattled. Deliberate. Cerebral to a fault. Who knew he’d be in a panic to remake one-sixth of the economy by the first week of August of his first year in office?

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Ramming through legislation without any assurance that it will work doesn’t seem pragmatic or farsighted. But for Obama’s purposes, it is. His goal is nothing short of an ideological reorientation of American government. Putting in place the structures to achieve this change in the power and role of government is more important than how precisely it is accomplished.

The stimulus might not do much to stimulate the economy during the recession, but its massive spending creates a new baseline for all future spending. The cap-and-trade bill might not reduce carbon emissions during the next decade, but it creates a mechanism for exerting government control over a huge swath of the economy. Obamacare might not work as advertised, but it will tip more people into government care and create the predicate for rationing and price controls.

RTWT of course.

Obama must feel the growing groundswell in the country against this radical reorganization of the health care system....and he doesn't much care. And much of the resistance is based on the multi-trillion dollar price tag and the tax increases and inflation that will surely result from it....real, pragmatic concerns for real Americans. Just as they have real, pragmatic concerns about what Cap and Trade will do to their energy costs. Obama admits their costs will skyrocket....and pushes on with the agenda.

Any pretense that he is a pragmatist of any stripe is out the window. I don't even hear his supporters sticking to that silliness any longer. Examples abound of ideology trumping pragmatism in the first six months...the shutting down of the successful school choice program in D.C. in deference to the union pressure.....Insisting that even if it resulted in less federal revenue, he would still increase tax rates on private businesses on the basis of "fairness"......Pursuing anti-business policies (EFCA and C&T) and using anti-business rhetoric when the country desperately needs private business to be thriving to feed the leviathan he is busy expanding...In foreign policy, the incessant debasing of America, the enthusiastic outreach to the world's tyrants...it's boilerplate leftism.

They are unapologetic societal levelers, and they are pursuing radical, untested policies to re-engineer society....the very definition of ideologues. Obama's pose as a pragmatist has been reduced to a punch line.

It seems though, that maybe the ideologue has overreached. Opposition grows to seeing the health care and energy sectors join the automotive sector as functions of Obama's re-engineered state. Hope springs.

UPDATE 7/21: Bill McGurn in the WSJ

Posted by dan at July 21, 2009 12:43 AM