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Published: Tuesday, 3/30/2010

From New Deal, to Fair Deal, to Obama's Bad Deal

FRANKLIN Roosevelt had the “New Deal,” Harry Truman the “Fair Deal,” and now Barack Obama has what Vice President Joe Biden described as a “big [expletive] deal.”

There's been a decline in more than the quality of the rhetoric over the years.

Democrats hailed Obamacare as a triumph along the lines of Social Security and Medicare. But Social Security and Medicare were popular. Eighty-one Republicans in the House and 16 in the Senate voted for Social Security in 1935. In 1965, 70 Republicans in the House and 13 in the Senate voted for Medicare.

Obamacare, on the other hand, is detested by many if not most Americans and passed the House without a single Republican vote and with 34 Democrats voting against it.

Liberal Democrats have sought national health insurance since the time of Harry Truman. It's ironic they've achieved their goal at just the time it is plain the nation cannot afford it.

“The trouble with socialism,” Margaret Thatcher said, “is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money.”

In the last fiscal year, the federal government had a $1.4 trillion deficit. The Obama Administration expects to run a $1.6 trillion deficit in the current fiscal year and deficits averaging nearly a trillion dollars a year for the next decade.

The deficits are so large that Moody's, the bond rating agency, is contemplating lowering the rating of U.S. debt, until recently considered the safest investment in the world. A lower bond rating means we'd have to spend billions of dollars more to service our debt.

Americans understand the danger. In a Fox News poll in February, 79 percent said the economy could collapse.

But Democrats in Washington don't. Obamacare commits us to spending another $1 trillion we don't have over the next 10 years. This renders risible Democratic claims that Obamacare will reduce the deficit.

Democrats made many specious and some preposterous claims to get Obamacare passed. The President said the bill would require insurance companies to cover young adults with pre-existing conditions “today.” The day after he signed it into law, it turns out that provision wouldn't kick in until 2014. There will be other unpleasant surprises in the days and weeks to come.

The cost, to both businesses and taxpayers, “is going to be out of sight,” Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, said on CNBC. The CEO of Caterpillar said the new law will cost his company $100 million in the first year alone. Medtronic, a manufacturer of medical devices, said new taxes could force it to lay off 1,000 workers.

If taxes, health-insurance premiums and the deficit go up instead of down, if jobs are lost, if seniors find it harder to get care, Democrats will own the consequences.

The greatest danger may not be fiscal. Conservatives believe the provision in the bill requiring Americans to purchase health insurance is an unconstitutional infringement of individual liberty. Their fears were not assuaged when a prominent Obamacare supporter, Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, said on the Paul Smith radio show, “It takes a long time to do the necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people.” Mr. Dingell later said he was talking about gaining control of the insurance companies.

Military metaphors have abounded in this debate. Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) said Obamacare could be Mr. Obama's Waterloo, which it clearly wasn't. Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard and Russ Douthat of the New York Times think a more apt metaphor is Borodino, Napoleon's bloody victory which permitted him to enter Moscow but which ultimately availed him nothing. His Grand Armee was nearly totally destroyed in the retreat from the city.

Democrats used brute force, bribery, deception, and parliamentary tricks to muscle through Obama-care despite enormous public opposition. Thousands of people who were never politically active before have attended town meetings and tea party rallies to oppose Obamacare. A Rasmussen poll released last week indicated 55 percent of Americans want Obamacare repealed.

So maybe a more appropriate military metaphor is the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. When his aides wanted to toast him on his victory, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto declined. He is alleged to have said: “I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

Jack Kelly is a columnist for The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Contact him at: jkelly@post-gazette.com



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