Commentary Magazine


“Change” Turns Out To Be Too Expensive and Unpopular

The Obama change machine is grinding to a halt. Politico reports:

Officials are most pessimistic about his energy and global warming plan, with many aides doubting he will win passage of a cap-and-trade emissions reduction system, which is strongly opposed by business and Republicans.

[ . . .]

Congressional and administration aides agree that none of his three biggest agenda items is likely to achieve final passage before this fall.

The Obama team uses consultant-speak to explain their inability to move forward. There is not “enough bandwidth” for all his great ideas and “it is never easy to change Washington.” But it seems never to dawn on them that the items on their agenda are problematic even within their own party. Where is the governing majority in favor of cap-and-trade? There isn’t one. Do moderate Democrats want to raise billions and billions in new taxes to pay for nationalized health care? The public at large certainly isn’t enthusiastic about it.

James Capretta explains the magnitude of the healthcare problem:

Where will the Congressional majority find the money to pay for such an expensive program? The Obama budget plan targeted upper-income households, private health insurers, and drug companies, and suggested some modest Medicare payment reforms as well. But those offsets only totaled $634 billion over ten years, and Congress has already signaled that the suggested limit on the deductibility of home-mortgage interest and charitable contributions for upper-income households, a $300+ billion tax hike, is all but dead. The Medicare payment reforms seem likely to undergo a downsizing too when they are put under the political microscope.

We spent a trillion dollars (including interest) on a stimulus bill that was supposed to keep unemployment below 8%. We are going to have a $3.6 trillion budget. And the rest of the Obama agenda (e.g. card check, nationalized healthcare, cap-and-trade) is fiscally or politically unfeasible. So what is he going to do for the next three and a half years? (Well, other than rid the world of nuclear weapons.) Perhaps he might finally get around to spurring economic growth and job creation.