Howard Kurtz thinks Cash for Clunkers may be a metaphor — or a warning sign — for health-care reform. He writes:
How can the administration declare the clunkers program a success when a billion-dollar effort that was supposed to last till November ran out of money in five days? Isn’t that a pretty spectacular miscalculation?
Also, isn’t it apparent that the $4,500 payments for older gas-guzzlers was extremely generous? That’s a huge chunk of change to spur people who probably would have bought a new car eventually anyway. It’s a nice short-term boost for the auto industry, and a small boost for fuel efficiency, but is it worth the additional $2 billion that the Senate seems inclined to join the House in approving? Does it further the impression that the administration is just shoveling money out the door?
There was no single day when the Gang of 500 got together and declared health care to be in trouble, but the White House is clearly on the defensive as Congress decamps for August. In retrospect, Obama failed to focus sufficient attention on the what’s-in-it-for-me question for the majority of Americans with insurance. Given the sweep and complexity of the proposals, many folks are skeptical of Obama’s assurances that their coverage will remain unchanged. And with a 1,000-page bill that the Democrats haven’t figured out how to pay for, the whole thing is vulnerable to attacks and distortions, on lots of sections and sub-sections.
Like Fred Barnes and others, Kurtz thinks we are on to “Plan B” — draconian regulation of the insurance industry.
Cash for Clunkers is of course not the first mismanaged, enormously expensive program tried by the Obama administration. It’s the third. First was the non-stimulative stimulus plan. Then there was the now-stuck-in-the-Senate-cap-and-trade plan. All three of these failed efforts share common traits: boundless faith in government, a disdain for the private sector, a disregard for simpler solutions that might have drawn bipartisan support, and neglect for our looming fiscal train wreck. Too big, too expensive, too complex. It’s a pattern, and it’s modern liberalism in its most undiluted state.
And lo and behold, the American people don’t like any of it. Will the Obama administration rethink and reset? Only if they and their congressional allies want to avoid a head-on collision with the voters.