The only thing healthy about Congress' health insurance legislation is the healthy skepticism about it by most of the public, as revealed by polls. What is most unhealthy about this legislation is the raw arrogance in the way it was conceived and passed.
Supporters of government health insurance call its passage "historic." Past attempts to pass such legislation — going back for decades — failed repeatedly. But now both houses of Congress have passed government health care legislation and it is just a question of reconciling their respective bills and presenting President Obama with a political "victory."
In short, this is not about improving the health of the American people. It is about passing something — anything — to keep the Obama administration from ending up with egg on its face by being unable to pass a bill, after so much hype and hoopla. Politically, looking impotent is a formula for disaster at election time. Far better to pass even bad legislation that will not actually go into effect until after the 2012 presidential election, so that the public will not know whether it makes medical care better or worse until it is too late for the voters to hold the administration accountable.
The utter cynicism of this has been apparent from the outset, in the rush to pass a health care bill in a hurry, in order to meet wholly arbitrary, self-imposed deadlines. First it was supposed to be passed before the August 2009 Congressional recess. Then it was supposed to be passed before Labor Day. When that didn't happen, it was supposed to be rushed to passage before Christmas.
Why — especially since the legislation would not take effect until years from now?
The only rational explanation for such haste to pass a bill that will be slow to go into effect is to prevent the public from knowing what is in this massive legislation that even members of Congress are unlikely to have read. That is also the only reason that makes sense for postponing the time when Obamacare goes into action after the next presidential election.
What does calling this medical care legislation "historic" mean? It means that previous administrations gave up the idea when it became clear that the voting public did not want government control of medical care. What is "historic" is that this will be the first administration to show that it doesn't care one bit what the public wants or doesn't want.
In short, this is not about the public's health. It is about Obama's ego and his chance to impose his will and leave a legacy.
This is not the only massive legislation to be rushed to passage in Congress and then left to go into effect slowly. The same political formula was used earlier, to pass the "stimulus" bill to spend hundreds of billions of dollars that the government doesn't have — and that may well amount to more than a trillion dollars when the interest on the debt it creates is added, for this and the next generation to pay off.
Legislation is not the only sign of this administration's contempt for the intelligence of the public and for the safeguards of democratic government.
The appointment of White House "czars" to make policy across a wide spectrum of issues — unknown people who get around the Constitution's requirement of Senate confirmation for Cabinet members — is yet another sign of the mindset that sees the fundamental laws and values of this country as just something to get around, in order to impose the will of an arrogant elite.
That some of these "czars" have already revealed their own contempt for the values of American society in the things they have said and done only reinforces the point.
In a sense, this administration is only the end result of a long social process that includes raising successive generations with dumbed-down education in schools and colleges that have become indoctrination centers for the visions of the left. Our education system has turned out many people who have never heard any other vision and who can only learn what is wrong with the prevailing vision from bitter experience.
That bitter experience now awaits them, at home and abroad.
Thomas Sowell (born June 30, 1930), is an American economist, social
commentator, and author of dozens of books. He often writes from an economically
laissez-faire perspective. He is currently a senior fellow of the Hoover
Institution at Stanford University. In 1990, he won the Francis Boyer Award,
presented by the American Enterprise Institute. In 2002 he was awarded the
National Humanities Medal for prolific scholarship melding history, economics,
and political science. In 2003, he was awarded the Bradley Prize for
• Browse All Thomas Sowell Books