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Obama, Health Care, the Great Society

Barack Obama’s press conference begins with a long and eloquent statement about health-care costs and America’s health-care needs. The promises he is making about his plan verge on the science-fictional. Everybody will get everything, and costs won’t go up, and a few rich people will have to pay more, and doctors and nurses will be empowered, and . . . and . . . and . . .

There’s no telling where this is all going to go, but the overpromising in which Obama is indulging is, in the long run, a dangerous journey into a failed liberal-left past. These promises about the glories of a health-care future are nothing less than a recapitulation of the promises of the Great Society in relation to poverty — that we could, effectively, eliminate poverty through a series of government programs and mandates. The failure of that promise — indeed, the fact that the dysfunctions of poverty were spread rather than alleviated by the Great Society — is the key reason for the catastrophic collapse of big-government liberalism that has only now found its way back into the dominant position in Washington.

This could be its way downward again. The question is how much damage will be done in the meantime.


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