President Barack Obama can’t seem to get anything right, or at least no more than half right, as when he said the other day that Google and Facebook “would not exist” without government spending on basic science and research. It is true that the Internet arose out of a military project, and it is also true that one of the few places Obama is willing to cut spending is the military. Go figure.
Spending is Obama’s first love, ideologically speaking. Like most everyone else of leftward bent, he thinks throwing public money at whatever looks evil will make it good, will make it shine, will render Utopia. What it will actually do is destroy America, and you would think that voters would fight back by doing some throwing themselves, as in throwing the rascals out.
Sadly, voters get led into silliness, first by the politicians and then by too many reporters looking for zing instead of substance while wasting an awful lot of breath speculating on who will win. They need to get around more to serious issues. And no, I do not mean the story about Republicans being against contraceptives that will somehow go away without the blessing of the health care reform law known as “Obamacare.”
The GOP is not against birth control. The truth is that everyone can get contraceptives cheaply while the poor can get them for free and that insurance companies have been providing contraceptive coverage for years. The chief contraceptive innovation of Obamacare, besides achieving nothing by forcing some religions to act against their faith, is to end co-payments, thereby forcing everyone to pay more on insurance premiums. The provision sums up part of what Obamacare is about: interventions helping some by the most autocratic, complicated, ineffective means possible while hurting many others. But Obamacare is also about crazy spending.
If you are in doubt, meet Charles Blahous. He is a terrifically smart guy whose specialty is entitlement programs. I met him when he was a top economic adviser to President George W. Bush. He is now a trustee for Medicare and Social Security, appointed to the position by Obama, and has lately come out with a peer-reviewed, fact-filled analysis refuting political blather to the effect that Obamacare will actually save money.
Though Obamacare was supposed to lessen total health care spending, Blahous tells us, over the next 10 years it will boost it by some $1.15 trillion while adding somewhere between $340 billion to $530 billion to federal deficits. But, hey, what’s with these straightforward calculations? Doesn’t Blahous know Washington prefers to operate in the midst of numerical confusion?
Where are the lifeboats?
For decades, the Congressional Budget Office has eased political life on both sides of the aisle by scoring the costs of some programs in a manner that says you have cut spending when you haven’t. Whoopee, said the Obama administration, looking to help subsidize Obamacare medical treatments for tens of millions of people with Medicare cuts that aren’t really cuts at all. They are in effect funds to be used for Medicare benefits in years to come.
Are there lifeboats for this fiscal Titanic of ours? We could go under. The debt is projected to reach $16 trillion by the end of the fiscal year, and both parties’ plans would increase it by trillions more over the next 10 years. The chief Republican plan at least increases it by less and focuses on some important reduced-spending ambitions with tax reform. The Obama plan seeks big-time tax hikes without true reform, meaning you can kiss economic growth goodbye. Obama virtually ignores the icebergs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Wait — my view is just a conservative extreme, right? Wrong. Any number of reasonably moderate economic thinkers are shuddering out loud these days. The nation should pay attention, and, by the way, someone ought to tell Obama the most significant technological innovations have come from private entrepreneurs.