Today's Greece, Tomorrow's America: How Obama's Health Care and Energy Agendas Really End
Barack Obama”s Presidential Inauguration
The most troubling aspect of the West’s current policy turmoil is not the European meltdown led by Greece and Spain. It is instead President Barack Obama’s unflinching insistence on rushing America headlong into the very mandates, and resulting debt levels, that precipitated that meltdown.
Obama is scripting a repeat of Europe’s disaster, here, by cramming down on the American people the same policy fetishes our Left has obsessed about for decades, and which Europe used to bring this down upon itself: statist management of health care and energy.
Consider the demands of even the European Union, whose billions to bail out Greece’s broken system appear to be only the precursor to the American taxpayer throwing ever more at Greece through the International Monetary Fund. The EU is leaning on Greece to, of all things, reintroduce private market forces into its state-run health care system. It turns out the state cannot afford state-run health care for the very reasons cited to expose Obama’s cost projections as ideological fantasy – the risible vow that offering more people more health care choices while further removing them from the true price of the services would “bend the cost curve downward.”
We also saw the eye-opening development late last month in Spain, flirting with the prospect of following Greece down the rabbit hole of statist bankruptcy. Desperate to avoid the ongoing public unrest which is aimed at intimidating political leaders away from abating Greece’s system of wealth transfers, Spain also seems to be preparing the public for massive reduction in expensive make-work projects.
In an internal report leaked to the media Spain’s socialist government acknowledged long-denied criticisms of its massive intervention to create a “green economy.” This amounts to official recognition that the schemes, specifically touted on eight separate occasions by Obama as his model for “green jobs” and “clean energy” mandates, are unsustainable and threaten the state with bankruptcy. In the face of this evidence, Obama has not stepped back one bit from racing into place his agenda. The imperative, it seems, is that whole “fundamental transformation” thing he vaguely if ominously promised.
Joining him now in this recklessness is the Democrat-controlled Senate, having finally found what it sees as bipartisan political cover for imposing the destructive economic feng shui of organizing society.
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) is lead sponsor of the legislative vehicle to be introduced this week, previously styled as various things, but now as an energy bill. Though it includes a cap-and-trade scheme and carbon dioxide restrictions, Kerry recently acknowledged that the measure “is not an environment bill.” This may sound odd, although it is self-evident to many since no one dares claim a temperature reduction would result that, even accepting all of their assumptions, would be detectable from background noise. The issue isn’t the issue. It must therefore be something else. I suggest it is simply a Power Grab one that threatens to bankrupt America.
In fact, “cap-and-trade” – the “cap” tips you off to the energy rationing – was never about climate. Co-author Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) admitted that when he topped Kerry’s candor late last week with the breathtaking assertion that “It’s not a global warming bill to me. Because global warming as a reason to pass legislation doesn’t exist anymore.”
Both senators also assert that the bill isn’t really “cap-and-trade” for the simple reason that they aren’t going to use that term to describe its cap-and-trade system. Obama poisoned that well with his admission that “under my plan of a cap-and-trade system electricity prices would necessarily skyrocket.”
Now they both admit that their global warming system isn’t about global warming, and Graham winks that this is because the rationale has fallen flat among the public. There’s some reason for this enormous intervention. We just aren’t supposed to learn what it is.
So, now, we’re told it’s about jobs. Except that, also at the end of last week, a Congressional Budget Office report came out and acknowledged about “cap-and-trade” what others have pointed out for years and Europe has experienced: “In particular, job losses in the industries that shrink would lower employment more than job gains in other industries would increase employment, thereby raising the overall unemployment rate.”
That may be why the House-passed cap-and-trade bill included two years of unemployment assistance for workers who lose their jobs as a result of this “jobs bill.” So the cap-and-trade bill long offered in the name of the environment and specifically somehow gently ministering to the climate isn’t not about cap-and-trade, it’s not about climate, it’s not about the environment. And it’s also not about jobs, as even CBO admits.
Every rationale trotted out for why you must accept this statism has fallen by the wayside, leaving those who seek to dictate your lifestyle through imposing artificial physical and price scarcity on energy to scramble for any excuse they think you’ll buy.
This is not change. It is an aggressive escalation of all that is wrong with Washington. Naturally, “big business” will be on the dais at Wednesday’s press conference unveiling the scheme to grant the scheme economic gravitas. This actually only affirms the worst about the bill. Leaked details about Kerry-Graham-Lieberman indicate that it, like the House bill, includes billions in the increased energy costs directed to industry in return for political cover.
And somehow you are the only ones not “at the table.” But you are also the only ones standing between today’s Greece and Spain being tomorrow’s America.
Christopher C. Horner is a Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. His latest book is “Power Grab: How Obama’s Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America” (Regnery).