Monday, March 22, 2010

Americans Learn to Love Government

Democrats hail this as a major breakthrough in their goal of finally getting every American insured. Republicans are denouncing the action as unprecedented big government tyranny that they will continue to fight, sure to draw cheers from the base.

But Republicans like John “Bailout” Boehner can jeer all they want about how Congress failed to listen to the will of the people, how this was shoved down the throats of the American people and how Democrats like Bart Stupak will pay at the ballot box in November.

The GOP, certain to make gains this November, will undoubtedly bludgeon the Democrats this fall with their health care bill, which was achieved through any number of shady means, although any significant resistance will likely end there.

One of the biggest reasons is that there are two Republican Parties. There is the party that is out of power and/or campaigning for reelection which purports to adhere to the Constitution and restraining government. This is the party that excites the Tea Partiers. The other party is the one that returns to power, retains the apparatuses Democrats instituted and introduces some of their own. This is the party that deserves to be run out of town and the one that brings the Democrats and this vicious cycle back.

But the screaming masses on the Right need to know one thing: Republicans have had numerous opportunities to roll back the welfare state. The Social Security Act of 1935 passed with bipartisan support. The New Deal remained firmly in place after eight years of Eisenhower.

Republicans have won seven of the eleven presidential elections since Medicare passed, yet Republicans not only preserved that single-payer program but expanded it in 2003 under a Republican president and a Republican congress. This means that Republicans are either

A). Fine with keeping the welfare state in place so they too can control Americans’ lives, or

B). They are too weak-willed to address the politically suicidal task of cutting entitlements. (Hint: Either answer is acceptable)

Even if there is no public option right now, universal health care is still in our future. Since the time of FDR, America has never taken a step away from government health care, only steps towards it.

And if there is nothing as permanent as a temporary government program, what can we say about something as transformational as this legislation?

The other big reason there won’t likely be any longstanding resistance is that Americans have already gotten comfortable with the idea of government health care.

Though often hesitant at first, Americans have shown that they do grow to love their entitlements.

Social Security and Medicare were measures that were denounced at the time as socialist but Americans have largely accepted these entitlements as American birthrights on a par with freedom of religion.

In today’s debate over the Democrats’ plan, Republicans demonstrated this by wailing about the cuts to Medicare as a way to fund the new program, not whether Medicare is constitutional in the first place.

The debate over private vs. public health care was lost long before Sunday’s vote.

Over seventy years ago, journalist Peter Edward “Garet” Garrett wrote about the New Deal in "The Revolution Was":

"There are those who still think they are holding the pass against a revolution that may be coming up the road. But they are gazing in the wrong direction. The revolution is behind them. It went by in the Night of Depression, singing songs to freedom. . . .

And:

“A government that has been supported by the people and so controlled by the people became one that supported the people and so controlled them. Much of it is irreversible. That is true because habits of dependence are much easier to form than to break.”

Those dependencies Americans have acquired, Social Security and Medicare, are running a hole in the budget. The biggest parts of the federal budget are the entitlements and all defense spending. The debt is currently $13 trillion. The Democrats propose that they can insure all Americans by just cutting from Medicare. At best, this is a solution that simply rearranges the debt. Republicans seem to be proposing that they can keep entitlement spending where it is, military spending where it is, cut taxes, and everything will be fine.

Cuts in the entitlement programs just won’t happen. Republicans won’t touch them because Democrats already campaign that Republicans will take away Social Security from seniors. Democrats won’t take a butter knife to the defense budget because Republicans already assail them for being weak. And nobody will raise taxes during a recession or during an election season.

The American government has weaned the American people into dependency. Everybody wants to cut something but nobody wants to give up their own share of the federal goodies.

In 2003 regarding the Iraq war, General David Petraeus said, “Tell me how this ends.”

We should be asking ourselves that same question today.

14 comments:

TRUTH 101 said...

I agree with you that we are getting closer to universal health insurance Carl. You disagree I'm sure but I think that's a great thing. I also agree that the republicans will not stop it and in the long run will work for it.

What I see that is ironic today is the big premium increases from the health insurance companies now. This will only help drive them out of business sooner with the promise of a government system for less money.

God willing anyway.

The state is being tough on local school districts. I hope this hasn't affected your employment situation Carl.

Steel Phoenix said...

There are at least four Republican Parties. We have Paleocons, Neocons, Religious zealots, and Small government types. I'm not a believer in the (new) Tea Party crowd. because I think rather than being made up of one of the above groups, they are made up of the combined wingnuts from each, all using it to their own ends. I think the Tea Party is being deliberately used as a way to segregate and discredit these people to the benefit of the Neocon status quo.

Other than that, I agree with your whole post. I do think that we have just embarked upon the worst possible health care system reform that would pass. The good news is that we should hit rock bottom mid decade and from there anything we change, whether to repeal this or further socialize, will likely be an improvement.

The Law said...

It's Medicine!
A Very Brief Counter-argument by TheLaw

It's medicine! The one thing about this debate that continues to baffle me over and over and over again is the idea that some people seem to be ok with denying medicine! medicine!!

There is no reason that every single American citizen should have access to to at least basic medicine. And even if you do have access, I have seen it happen to people close to me, hard working, middle class, employed, insured, Americans who get sick and have the coverage denied. It's medicine. It's not car insurance, it's not making sure every citizen has a cell phone for emergencies... it's medicine.

I strongly disagree that democrats dug their own grave so to speak: republicans will not have as big of a victory come midterms. Because they are the party that unanimously decided to deny medicine! There was VERY little constructive debate from the republicans (and that's being very generous). If you're not happy with the bill, blame them. Rather than work together to find a way to provide people medicine,they instead half-heartedly tossed in opinions they had no intention of supporting.

I greatly respect your writing and intellect greatly - in fact, I think you are one of the best writers I've seen in the blogosphere. But, we're talking about medicine (in case I haven't made that clear enough). Where is the compassion in this debate? Everyone should elated by this historic bill, save insurers who now have to find new loopholes to ruin your life.

This post is tangential; I know this is not the argument you're making. It needs to be said however, that it is the responsibility of a nation to secure the health and welfare of her citizens. It's medicine. Forget about the money for a moment and imagine looking into someone's eyes saying "I would love to help cure you. But you are unemployed, and you can't afford this medicine that will make you better.

Steel Phoenix said...

This isn't providing everyone the option of free medicine, it's mandating under threat of fine the purchase of insurance from private insurance companies, whatever they may charge, and whether you want or need their services.

I have a moral objection to the very thought of health insurance, as I know several religious groups do as well. The Amish refuse most medical procedures, and thus have little use for it, and Muslims are disallowed under the rules against gambling. I'm just unwilling to support a Ponzi bureaucracy that by very design, takes so much more than it provides, and whose sole service seems to be charging me to interfere with my health care decisions.

The Law said...

I'm just unwilling to support a Ponzi bureaucracy that by very design, takes so much more than it provides, and whose sole service seems to be charging me to interfere with my health care decisions.

With respect, this is flawed logic. I suppose the beauty of America is that you have the right to decide not to decide. Keep in my your right to make "health care decisions" in the event that you are without health insurance means that ultimately someone has to pay for it anyway. This is another part of the debate that escapes me. If you decide you are better off without insurance and you get sick, I have to pay for you, while you don't have to pay into the system. Honestly, I don't mind, as an American, you are my brother, and I'll gladly foot the bill. However, if there is a way to make that bill less expensive for everyone, via a mandate that everyone has access to health care, it makes all the sense in the world to me. If the Amish and Muslim populations get sick, really sick, I'm pretty sure they would go to the hospital before suffering in pain for their beliefs. It's amazing what excruciating pain will to to the psyche. I've worked in the health care sector for 5 years... I've seen it with my own eyes.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Carl,
We have sold our souls on numerous occassions as you have enumerated here. The problem is that once a government program becomes law, it is nearly impossible to roll it back.

So we are really stuck with this monstrosity and we can only hope to nibble at the edges of it. Truth is right. We will have a single payer soon. It's unstoppable. It's like drug addiction. Once you start, you can't stop. We have been reduced to pointing out the folly of this road, but it seems to be permanent.

Isn't it interesting that the bill had to be fixed the next few days after its passage? Get used to it as the foible of this bill becomes apparent everyday.

CHAIRMAN TAO said...

Nothing I like more than to irk a few right wing folks who claim to be for smaller government and independence and then they vote republican!

Or the argument that our representatives to do represent their 'constituents' (gee, if they didn't then how come they always get reelected?)

I look at our debt and try to calculate how much of that debt is reflected in our GDP and in our national 'wealth.'

Would people really tolerate the standard of living we would be reduced to if we actually did reduce the deficit and balance the budget?

What would the world look like if we did not have the military that we now have?

All this talk about 'principles' and I just laugh wondering who would pay the 'interest' for these 'principals?'

We all want it to be someone else.

Jeremiah Whitmoore said...

Excellent post Mr. Wicklander!

Most of the religious right is still waiting for the Republicans to stop abortion and gay marriage.

The only people that ever get anything are the neoconservatives with their stupid wars.

There is no chance the republicans will repeal obamacare. Absolutely none. Their opposition was purely political and calculated towards 2010 (with few exceptions).

Carl Wicklander said...

We're doing okay, Truth. And we're nowhere near done with the cuts. This state has a long way to go. What I dread more are the inevitable tax increases.

Carl Wicklander said...

Steel Phoenix,

Fair enough. I'm not a big believer in the Tea Parties myself. I went to a Tea Party rally last year on tax day and my feeling was that the majority were just angry Republicans holding up signs for Palin or Romney who would faithfully support Republicans come the next election. And that was a year ago when the "movement" was fresher and more decentralized.

Michael Brendan Doherty's article on the tea parties in the April issue of "The American Conservative" is worth a read.

http://www.amconmag.com/article/2010/apr/01/00006/

Carl Wicklander said...

The Law,

Thanks for the visit.

I understand your passion about this issue. I see the same sort of passion among Republicans who think there should be no cap on defense spending. But the nobility of a cause doesn't negate the laws of economics. It has to be paid for and if we end up a single payer system there will be no competition and no reason for me to believe that prices for medicine would ever go down, thus only making prices higher and further justification for the government to increase their bureaucracy.

I do appreciate your thoughts and your kind words about my writing. I very much enjoy yours too, however little we might agree!

Carl Wicklander said...

Law and Order Teacher,

There's a saying that if you accept the first bribe, you might as well accept the rest of them and that's how I see the Republicans. If they compromise and accept portions of government health care they might as well go all the way because that's where we end up anyway. Otherwise it's just delaying tactics.

Thanks for the visit.

Carl Wicklander said...

Tao,

Your comments indicate the levels of dependence people have acquired, even without realizing it.

It's exactly right that if we really did cut spending that people would feel it. The most troublesome part is that these reductions might be made for us if the dollar collapses. Entitlements will be cut and the troops will come home. Then things will be interesting.

Carl Wicklander said...

Jeremiah,

Great to have you back and I couldn't have put it better myself. The Republicans aren't so much the loyal opposition as the worthless opposition. What's sad is that millions of rank-and-file Republicans really think their party believes all the things they said during this procedure.