Paul Jacob

A leading candidate for the presidency said recently, and I quote, “I want to get back to the appropriate balance of power between government and the market.”

Though I agree with the statement, the candidate’s meaning is not the meaning I would intend were I saying it.

Government has gotten way out of whack with markets. But contrary to the candidate’s point, there’s too much government, which has grown ferociously in the past seven years. It’s leaching off of private wealth at far too fast a rate. And its tentacles inhibit too much growth.

The candidate in question, however, argued that we need more government taking a more active role, in part to address the “excesses” of the Bush Administration.

Puzzling. The excesses of the Bush administration have been in the area of government growth. Too much spending, too few vetoes.

Example? A new entitlement program, Medicare D, devised and pushed by the administration, now threatens to further destabilize our already over-regulated, over-subsidized health care system.

And, in all the seven years of supposedly compassionate conservative governance, I have no recollection of the administration pushing to repeal the vast array of burdensome and distorting regulations that have so crippled our medical care delivery system. The president has let government grow, and has done almost nothing to peal away the parts of government that are hurting us.

Indeed, the biggest economic threat looming over the nation is the instability of Social Security. Politicians have, over the years, stretched a disturbingly Ponzi-like pension system to the breaking point, repeatedly increasing the FICA contributions to such an extent that the system can no longer be called a safety net system, but a very ill-thought-out socialized pension plan — with no investment.

Now, it’s true, the president had, on occasions, trotted out a quasi-privatization plan. His goal — get people out of a bad system — was good, so I tried to support it at the time. But it went nowhere, in some part because of fears conjured up by the Candidate in Question. Worse yet, the reform did seem not to address some key stability issues. So the administration abandoned the reform.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.