Not Adding Up


How do you know that ObamaCare is in trouble? When Democrats are afraid to have Town Hall Meetings. How do you know the president is in trouble? When he is forced to defend his plan by promising that he’s not going to “pull the plug on Grandma.”

So, protesters, keep up the pressure. Despite the Democrats’ attempts to demonize those who attend Town Meetings to pressure the socialists, you are correct to be mad – and scared.

No self-respecting liberal today would support Franklin Roosevelt’s original Social Security Act. If that version of Social Security were introduced today, progressives like me would call it cramped, parsimonious, mean-spirited and even racist. Perhaps it was all those things. But it was also a start. And for 74 years we have built on that start.

There’s no need to worry about what is actually in the bill. How can this be? Just know that the president, and Congress, are not interested in what’s in the bill. If they cared about the content, this would be a 2 years process – Obama wouldn’t have been trying to get it passed in 3 weeks. All they want is to get the ball rolling – just as Paul Begala describes how they’ve expanded Social Security, over 74 years, into the unsustainable, budget crushing crisis that it represents today.

We added more people to the winner’s circle: farmworkers and domestic workers and government workers. We extended benefits to the children of working men and women who died. We granted benefits to the disabled. We mandated annual cost-of-living adjustments. And today Social Security is the bedrock of our progressive vision of the common good.

They don’t need to read the bill because they know what the measure would achieve – the creation of the Monster Machine that will shift control of health care, 17% of the entire economy, into the hands of the government. That warms their hearts. The details can be worked out later, and will be worked out, as the law is implemented by the huge bureaucracy that really decides how the details shake out.

Health care may follow that same trajectory… I believe subsidies should extend to as many Americans as need help and that the hard-earned health benefits of middle-class Americans should not be taxed. I believe insurer abuses like the preexisting-condition rule should be outlawed. The question is not whether I or other progressives will support a health-reform bill that includes everything we want but, rather, whether we will support a bill that doesn’t.

Over time, it’s easy to modify a big social program into something bigger and more destructive. As a matter of fact, health care reform is not really a new social program – it’s a repair to Medicare and Medicaid, which, like Social Security, now threaten our financial survival. The current social programs are not sustainable – ObamaCare draws more people in so that their money can be used to save the disasters that liberalism has already created.

I carry a heavy burden of regret from my role in setting the bar too high the last time we tried fundamental health reform. I was one of the people who advised President Bill Clinton to wave his pen at Congress in 1994 and declare: “If you send me legislation that does not guarantee every American private health insurance that can never be taken away, you will force me to take this pen, veto the legislation, and we’ll come right back here and start all over again.” I helped set the bar at 100 percent — “guarantee every American” — and after our failure it’s taken us 15 years to start all over again.

Begala now realizes that the full, crushing destructiveness of the liberal dream can be realized if only voters don’t see where things are heading.


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