It is America's misfortune that at a moment in history that required sober, grown-up stewardship and a realistic appraisal of our fiscal trajectory, we elected (by large margins) the party of supplicants and whiners. How appropriate that one of the selling points of Obamacare was the guarantee that children up to the age of 26 can remain on their parents' insurance plans -- because the Democrats' whole program is about extending adolescence.
Like teenagers, the Democrats are weak on long-term consequences, saving for the future, and planning for (entirely foreseeable) contingencies. They excel at demanding their allowance, but not so much at earning it. They are the "me" party. Health care, pronounced Nancy Pelosi, is a "right" to be financed by others, not a privilege.
A serious party would grapple with our mounting unfunded obligations. Each year the trustees of the Medicare and Social Security programs issue a report analyzing the costs of those programs. Last year's report put the total unfunded liability of the two programs at $107 trillion in 2009 dollars. The two programs now consume about 14 percent of tax receipts. By 2030, even without the new Obamacare entitlement, they will chew up half of all federal outlays. By 2060, they would swallow 75 percent. They are, to use the favorite Washington expression, "unsustainable."
Particularly at a time when the battered economy is taking its first tentative steps toward recovery, a responsible government would seek to reduce debt, ease the burdens on businesses, and refrain from introducing more instability and unpredictable new burdens on taxpayers.
Instead, the Democrats have charged ahead with their social/democratic vision of a Europeanized America. The past several months have removed all doubt that the Democrats are willing to risk national bankruptcy in pursuit of their great white whale -- nationalized health care. They may yet compound the error by adding cap and trade to the ledger.
Consider the brief nod to fiscal responsibility they offered in February. Excoriating "a decade of profligacy," President Obama signed "Paygo" -- a measure to require that new spending be balanced by cuts or tax increases so as not to increase the deficit. "It's easy to get up in front of the cameras and rant against exploding deficits," declared the president. "What's hard is actually getting deficits under control. But that's what we must do."
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