Friday, January 1, 2010

Repeal the Deal

There is still time, some say, to kill the health bill that has now passed the House and the Senate and needs to go through a conference process before passing out as a final bill for the president's signature.

But I wonder if that is the right strategy.

It seems that Democrats didn't get the right message from the failure of HillaryCare back in 1994. Back then we killed the bill and dealt the Democrats a severe defeat in the 1994 elections, and so President Clinton retreated to a policy of incremental change on health care. No longer would he propose the Democratic dream of universal health care run by the administrative state. Instead he would do it by inches.

But Democratic policy analysts went to work to come up with a new way of selling universal health care to the American people. ObamaCare is the result.

Democrats clearly believe that if they can just get something, anything past the finish line then they will have succeeded in passing landmark social welfare thata can never be repealed. That was how the Democrats understood their victory on Social Security, and that is how they understand their victory on Medicare. They believe that once they pass an act to put health care under the administrative control of government, there is no turning back.

The only way to change their minds is to do the unthinkable. We must mount a campaign to repeal a major piece of social legislation and carry it through to victory.

Let us understand what this means. It means that we must declare ObamaCare unjust and illegal. We must mount a campaign to repeal it. We must persuade the American people of the justice of our cause. We must elect legislators sworn to repeal ObamaCare, and then we must press our case until a Congress is elected that repeals ObamaCare and a president is elected who will sign the repeal.

There must be a decisive battle sooner or later on social welfare. The battle is necessary to decide the larger war, which is: Shall the United States achieve social cohesion by means of administrative government programs? Or shall it reject this model and try another model?

The history of the past century and a half has been the history of the growth of government programs to deliver social services like education, health care, pensions, and charity. The prime movers of these programs were not the working classes. All they ever wanted was more money. No. The driving force behind social legislation has been the progressive educated class.

The progressive educated class arose in the mid-19th century and by the turn of 20 century has coalesced around a program of government expansion. They believed that an unregulated private sector could not deliver the education and the protection from poverty that the people needed. They proposed a legislative program to deliver these services with government programs that they would lead and control.

Obviously this program of government expansion will continue until it is stopped. Obviously it will eventually stop. It cannot take over the whole economy, for it requires a healthy private sector to deliver the goods and services to finance its programs. At some point the expansion of government will end.

Either the era of government expansion will end in meltdown, or it will end in a decisive battle in which the ordinary people tell the progressive educated class that they don't want their administrative state.

Michael Barone wrote recently about a similar decisive battle that occurred in the past. It was the Kansas-Nebraska Act that Sen. Stephen Douglas (D-IL) shepherded through the Senate in 1854. He thought that his plan of deciding the issue of slavery state by state through "popular sovereignty" was a sensible plan that would end the conflict over slavery.

But he was wrong. The Kansas-Nebraska Act ignited a firestorm of rage in the North, and the Democrats lost 73 seats in the House in the 1854 elections (That would be like 140 seats lost today). Seven years later the states were at war.

Without the Kansas-Nebraska Act the anti-slavery North would not have been roused to political rage, and the Republican Party might not have been created to fight slavery. Perhaps there would have been no civil war.

Without the passage of ObamaCare we may not get the political rage that is needed to turn the tide of government expansion back and return once more to a nation of limited government.

We can only hope that the campaign to take back America from the progressive educated class does not end in civil war.

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