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Was This What They Had in Mind?

Daniel Henninger writes that the promise of a new, dynamic president for the 21st century has been overrun by the reality of a series of statist policies that seem to be tied together only by their boundless faith in government. But this should be no surprise:

So far Mr. Obama has used his personally exciting presidency for initiatives that are spending public money on a scale not seen since ancient Egypt. Besides Obama Motors ($60 billion to $100 billion), there is Obama-Care for health insurance ($1.2 trillion over 10 years), the stimulus ($800 billion), a global-warming offensive called cap and trade that hopes to siphon hundreds of billions of dollars from the economy, and a fiscal year 2010 budget of $3.59 trillion. Out of these mists of federal “investment” they promise five million “green collar jobs.” Only public-sector lifers could believe, or assert, anything so fantastic.

Then there is the never-ending march of the financial-rescue armies — TARP, TALF, PIPP, EESA. The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet stands at some $2 trillion and growing. Last week Treasury floated the possibility of a single financial regulator for the entire banking system.

All this is the Obama government’s idea of innovation. It is all public sector because all any of them know is public sector.

Yes, the Obama team is infatuated with government and dedicated to making a concerted effort to dismantle a robust private market-based economy. The resulting industrial policy is one that would have been rejected by the voters — had Obama had the nerve to run on it in November. Henninger argues that it’s not very “new” at all:

Instead, we’ve gotten the Old Economy on dialysis. General Motors has been commanded to restart aging UAW factories to output product on behalf of the administration’s hybrid-car obsession. Where’s the New Economy in any of this?

Or ObamaCare. How will a build-out of Medicare (b. 1965) to cover everyone and costing $1.2 trillion over 10 years not kill innovation in medical and health technology by siphoning away growth capital and its potential financial rewards?

And this suggests, at some point, a problem with the coalition of brainy professionals, young voters, and high-income urbanites. Socking them with a round of higher taxes is only the start. For a generation used to customized and personalized everything they may get a rude awakening when they find out that a one-size fits all healthcare plan isn’t very “user-friendly.” Voters who selected the post-partisan, post-racial, “cool” candidate may wonder soon why this all seems like a throw-back to some bygone era.


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