“We are facing a time when we have a group of people, led by President Obama, who believes that America’s greatness lies in its government, not its people. They want to hook you. They don’t want to free you.” (Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, now running for President.)
This is an accurate description of Barack Obama and his “people” in Washington. However, there are several problems with this statement.
One problem: This is nothing new. Santorum was referring specifically to ObamaCare when he made this remark. But what about Medicare? Republicans (including Santorum himself, no doubt) support Medicare as fervently as Obama supports ObamaCare. ObamaCare is merely an extension of the Medicare principle: That people are entitled to health insurance regardless of what they pay into it, and whether or not they pay into it at all. This results in an average worker paying in, say, $50,000 to Medicare over the course of his career and then receiving $169,000 in medical benefits once retired. As people live longer and demand for health care grows, this $169,000 will turn into $250,000 before much longer.
What kind of health insurance program is this? If it were a private company, it would be closed down for fraud and mismanagement. Yet this is the sort of thing most Republicans defend with their lives. Big Government Republicans like George W. Bush even expanded this program.
It’s ironic how people like Santorum, who support all welfare state programs once they’re in place, can be so eloquent about opposing them before they become fully implemented. It’s reasonable to imagine that some Rick Santorum 25 years down the road will be championing the preservation of ObamaCare, while refusing to allow any new government welfare programs to pass. The cycle will continue repeating itself until either (1) a majority say, “Enough!” (no possibility of this so long as there’s a perception of freebies), or (2) the economic system itself in some way collapses or seriously falters due to the spiraling debt.
One thing is for sure. Demand for Medicare and mostly government-financed health care isn’t going anywhere. It’s going to keep rising. If the economy declines, or simply fails to expand to keep up with the demands of the population growth (including the aging population), the Medicare deficit will simply grow bigger. The only alternative offered by Democrats is to keep raising the national debt limit. This is like a credit card with theoretically no limit. The only Republican alternative is a voucher program, but this won’t solve the increased demand created by government entitlements, and since most people (falsely) view this as privatization, there’s no remote possibility of it passing; not now or (my prediction) even under a Republican President, especially a Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich or other pseudo-free market Republican, of which there are many. I’d venture a guess it wouldn’t pass under President Rick Santorum either, although this man will not likely ever be President.
The second problem: It’s true that Big Government welfare socialists want to hook Americans, but more Americans than not appear to want to be hooked. There’s no widespread recognition of the fact that the drug of welfare socialism is killing them. There’s no widespread desire to go off the drug. Alcohol or drug-addicted individuals will never stop unless or until they swear off the substance forever. Intending to swear off a substance is no guarantee that you will, but it’s a necessary condition. Does anyone see what I’m missing? Does anyone see a widespread movement based on desire to get off this Big Government drug of which Santorum speaks? What I see, extending the metaphor, is: “I can stop anytime. I don’t have a problem. Leave me alone. And pass me another drink.” That’s what raising the national debt limit is all about. That’s what the majority (even a majority of the Tea Party by some polls) sentiment in favor of “preserving Medicare” is all about.
I’ll give the Tea Party credit. As a movement within the Republican House, it has (thanks largely to Rep. Paul Ryan) made the point that our current path is unsustainable. And Ryan is absolutely correct that trillions — not billions, but trillions — of cuts in government spending are the only chance for saving the budget and the currency, and that these cuts must sooner (not later, but sooner) include Medicare. But the budget is not America’s only economic problem. The failure to create new jobs and to stem growing unemployment is a serious problem. Its impact will worsen year-by-year, especially if Obama wins reelection. The failure for businesses to feel that they can safely expand and spend capital safe from a wealth-spreading hungry government is a bigger problem than people realize. Business is, to some extent, on a silent strike. Obama officials repeatedly express resentment that corporations won’t spend, thereby creating jobs, thereby improving the economic numbers so Obama can be assured of reelection. Why should they? If the economy took off like say in the 1980s, the Obama Administration would swoop down with taxes and/or regulations like you’ve never before seen. I don’t blame businesses for holding on to their money, until or unless Americans come to their senses and fire these socialists once and for all.
Private enterprise and capitalism are still America’s greatest hope. They’re always the greatest hope for any country, whether a third-world country or a country like the United States with the underpinnings of a free society but who has nevertheless lost its way. A surge in economic productivity would lessen the debt and deficit problem, although the Medicare and entitlement crisis will still not go away — that was always coming. Right now, Americans (based on polls) seem slightly inclined to return the socialist to power next year and even to reduce the Tea Party influence in Congress. If so, things will not get better and they will only worsen. And it will be the majority of Americans who did it to themselves (and to those of us who didn’t want it).
This is because nobody “hooks” you without your consent.