False Choices, Indeed

Conservatives aren’t the only skeptics when it comes to the president’s grandiose plans. Ruth Marcus writes:

President Obama’s plan to put the country on a sustainable fiscal path hinges on three huge bets. First, that the government can get health-care costs under control even while expanding coverage. Second, that enacting a cap-and-trade emissions plan would generate revenue along with easing global warming. Third, that the looming expiration of the Bush tax cuts can be a forcing mechanism to write a saner tax code and bring in more revenue.

For starters, the goals are mutually contradictory and devoid of realism. Putting in place cap-and-trade regulations for every business limits economic activity. The notion that you’re going to make money on this proposition is analogous to a quack diet promising that you will lose weight eating chocolate cake four times a day. Paying for healthcare for tens of millions of new beneficiaries costs lots of money. You can say you want more healthcare and want to pay less for it, but just saying it and crossing your fingers doesn’t make it remotely feasible.

All of these endeavors require exquisite, near superhuman skill, unlimited funds, and a belief that the people who decided to save AIG and let Lehman Brothers fail, unleashed Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae on the subprime lending market, and currently support entrenched special interests (e.g. trial lawyers and Big Labor) are going to get this all “right” — and save money, to boot.

I think Obama was the one who talked about “false choices.” But the notion that you can have it all by government fiat without incurring huge economic cost and wrecking a vibrant economy is the greatest falsehood of them all.