Monday, August 24, 2009

Promises to Keep, Miles to Go

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,

And I have miles to go before I sleep,

And I have miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on A Snowy Evening,” 1923

Frost’s poem captures the mood of the moment in health care – to stop for a moment and reflect before plunging deeper into the woods. As a nation we are still in the economic woods.

The recession is framing the health care debate because people worry about the national debt. Just today, it was announced the debt may be $9 trillion in 10 years rather than $7 trillion, and a big part of that debt may come from health care.

Of health care reform, people are asking: What’s the rush? Almot overnight, people are calling for delay, details, and reflection. Why do it now when we’re still in the depths of a recession. In CNN’s “State of the Nation,” Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut said, “Americans are very worrid about their jobs, about the economic future. They’ve watched us add to the debt of this country. We’re projected to run a $1.8 trillion debt this year. There’s no reason we have to do it all now.”

Speaking on the same show, Senator Lugar of Indiana chimed in, “I would advise the President that the bringing up of the health care stituation in the midst of a recession was a mistake. And therefore he ought to postpone the decision. For the moment let’s clear the deck and try it next year or in subsequent times.”

In other words, Obama ought to start again from scratch and sleep on it. But there is no mood for this in Democratic circles, where thoughtful waiting and thinking through the problem is interpreted as a political defeat of Clintonesque proportions.

Do it now, even if you have to ram it down the Republican’s throats. Do it now before the electorate has time to think about i. Do it now, while the iron is hot. Do it now, even if like Amtrak, it runs the risk of becoming a high-speed boondoggle.

Thomas Sowell, of the Hoover Institute at Stanford, explains the mood among Obamaphiles this way,

"The serious, and sometimes chilling, provisions of the medical care legislation that President Obama has been trying to rush through Congress are important enough for all of us to stop and think, even though his political strategy from the outset has been to prevent us from having time to stop and think about it.”

‘What we also should stop to think about is the mindset behind this legislation, which is very consistent with the mindset behind other policies of this administration, whether the particular issue is bailing out General Motors, telling banks who to lend to or appointing "czars" to tell all sorts of people in many walks of life what they can and cannot do. ”

“The idea that government officials can play God from Washington is not a new idea, but it is an idea that is being pushed with new audacity.”

It is an audacity of hope, combined with ample doses of arrogance, condescension, and hubris. Goverment knows best. To hell with what others think. While some believe in high-speed government as the God of economic salvation, others trust in the people, common sense, and tincture of time.

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