FOR CONSERVATIVES, OBAMA'S CHANGES
WOULD BE PERMANENT AND DEVASTATING
by Michael Medved
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Yes, it’s true that some changes by liberal presidents can be erased by future conservatives – for instance, George W. Bush cut the top marginal tax rate to 35%, after it had risen to 39.6% under Clinton (it’s sure to go back up to the Clinton rate – or higher – under Obama). Yes, the President and Congress tinker endlessly with details of the tax system or the levels of appropriation or regulation so that the growth in government and spending under President Obama could be adjusted after his departure, if not reversed.
But conservatives need to face the fact that Barack Obama has promised profound systemic changes that will be irreversible—absolutely permanent alterations of our economy and government where there is no chance at all that Republican office-holders of the future could in any way repair the damage.
For instance, consider two sweeping new entitlements that Obama plans to offer for all Americans – universal (but, he insists, “voluntary”) federally-funded pre-school for all children starting at age three, and a low-cost, heavily subsidized federal health insurance plan for every low or middle income American who wants it.
A President Obama would no doubt promote such proposals in his first year in office and a compliant, heavily-Democratic Congress would approve them promptly—perhaps making the benefits even more generous. This means that before the next election, tens of millions (probably hundreds of millions) of American families will take advantage of “free” pre-kindergarten education (and day care), as well as cheap, subsidized (to the tune of at least $160 billion per year) health insurance. The chances of ever taking away such goodies are nil --- Presidents may come and go, but entitlements are forever. New government give-aways may accomplish nothing constructive but they’re all but impossible to eliminate once they’re up and running.
Consider Jimmy Carter’s horribly misguided establishment of two vast new cabinet level departments --- the Department of Education and the Department of Energy. When the indignant public swept out of office the worst president of modern times, Reagan took the White House with talk of eliminating one or both of these two wasteful bureaucracies. Even the Great Gipper failed in this endeavor, and the Departments of Energy and Education continue to soak up hundreds of billions of tax dollars and to employ tens of thousands, despite their abject failure at improving either public education or our energy supplies.
Obama’s new entitlements will similarly survive all attempts to eliminate them. If he becomes President we’ll be permanently stuck not just with federal pre-school and a subsidized health insurance guarantee (Obama described it as a “right” in the last debate), but with a $4,000 annual check (a so-called “refundable tax credit”) to all “non-wealthy” college students, a doubling of the Peace Corps, vast increases in AmeriCorps, new billions for “National Service,” a tripling of the foreign aid budget (a specific Obama promise) and much, much more. For those who believe it’s easy to reduce or erase such spending in future administrations, consider the example of Bill Clinton’s cherished “service program” AmeriCorps (which pays its “volunteers” close to $30,000 a year). Gingrich, George W. Bush and countless other conservatives recognize that this is a wasteful, crooked, outrageous effort to use taxpayer money to fund leftist activism, but even when the GOP controlled all levers of government they made no progress in slaughtering the monster.
Or think about Lyndon Johnson’s federal initiative for a “National Endowment for the Arts” in 1967. By now, this appalling program has wasted many billions of taxpayer dollars to fund the ugliest and most puerile sorts of artistic expression. No one can make a serious case that the NEA has accomplished anything worthwhile in uplifting or enriching our culture (in which more than 98% of all cultural spending comes from private sources--- donations, opera tickets, sales of paintings, museum admissions, or corporate grants, rather than government initiatives at the federal, state or local level). Despite the endlessly demonstrated uselessness and insipidity of the National Endowment, it continues to flourish – and even won increased appropriations in recent years.
Aside from the ongoing growth of government and the waste of public money, other changes brought about by President Obama will prove to be unalterable and devastating: in his first year, he will authorize gays serving openly in the military, and hasten the national imposition of homosexual marriage (he’s pledged to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act).
He will also get the chance to appoint at least two, and perhaps as many as four new justices to the Supreme Court of the United States. All legal observers expect Obama’s nominees to embrace an even more activist, leftist view of the Constitution and legal system than Clinton’s appointees, Breyer and Ginzburg. The damage from the remaking of the court could prove incalculable. There is also no chancesof impeaching any Supreme Court Justice (short of a credible murder or rape charge) even if Republicans re-take control in some future Congress. The GOP (led by Jerry Ford as House Minority Leader) tried to gain traction for impeachment efforts to counteract the wildly destructive excesses of the Warren Court but got absolutely nowhere and managed, mostly, to embarrass themselves.
Finally, and perhaps most fatally, a President Obama will radically revamp our already broken immigration system and permanently remake the country, politically and demographically.
Most conservatives passionately opposed the sweeping immigration reform promoted in 2007 by President Bush, Senator McCain (and, it must be noted, a majority of Republican members of the US Senate) because it granted a complicated path to legalization for some of the millions of illegal immigrants who are already here. Those concerned citizens who celebrated “victory” last year with the collapse of the immigration compromise should prepare themselves for a much more liberal, forgiving reform under Obama (and his supportive Congress) that will make legalization far easier, and will include far more of the illegals as future voters and citizens.
Of course the Democrats will push such changes, knowing that they can thereby claim sole “credit” for welcoming millions of new citizens to the voting roles, and with the expectation that such freshly minted Americans will vote Democratic for the rest of their lives. The Democrats will also cut back immediately on the workplace immigration raids and enhanced border security that has enabled the Bush administration to sharply cut back on illegal entries in the last year --- Obama has specifically condemned these efforts and might even halt or slow ongoing work on the border fence.
In any event, we’ve been down this road before: the Republicans claimed credit for the restrictive Immigration Act of 1924, all but eliminating the flow of humanity from Eastern and Southern Europe, and as a result vast numbers of ethnic voters (Italians, Poles, Jews, Greeks and more) became loyal Democrats for a generation or more.
This shift in immigrant voters played a huge role in the establishment of the New Deal Coalition that won five Presidential elections in a row (1932 through 1948) and totally dominated Congress for an appalling fifty years (1930-1980).
As Amity Shlaes shows in her necessary new book “The Forgotten Man,” FDR failed miserably at turning around the US economy (the Depression lingered until the beginning of World War II) but succeeded brilliantly in achieving long-term power for the Democratic Party. The innumerable government programs launched by the New Deal may have done nothing to advance the overall interests of the nation of the economic system, but they performed magnificently at creating dependent interest groups who voted reliably Democratic for decades. If the government hands out goodies to various constituencies, those segments of the population will continue to support the idea of enriching themselves with other people’s money.
That’s the biggest threat of an Obama presidency: the creation of vast new groups of dependent Americans who will comprise an unassailable new coalition that will enjoy iron control of our politics for a generation or more. If you start with newly legalized immigrant voters (with as many as 10 million new Democrats totally beholden to Obama and company) and then add the beneficiaries of government pre-school, the new nursery school teachers, the recipients and administrators of federal health insurance, federal college grants, the businesses who’ll enjoy the $150 billion in promised subsidies for “alternative energy,” the companies and employees of the vast increases in “infra-structure” spending (lots more bridges to nowhere), the non-tax payers who will suddenly receive a $1,000 per household check (under the guise of “refundable tax credit,” and many, many more.
In his first years in office, a President Obama could easily succeed in buying so many interest groups and constituencies with expensive new governmental favors, that conservative dreams of rebuilding a small government majority will go absolutely nowhere.
The conservative movement, and the survival of a viable small-government faction in American politics, depends upon a McCain victory in November. A triumph for Barack Obama, combined with Democratic gains in both House and Senate, could easily usher in a dark new era with decades of corrupt, welfare-state, bureaucratic leftist rule.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008THE CORNER on The National Review Online
Cut to the Chase [Mark Steyn]
Abe Greenwald went to a "Democrats for McCain" event last night and liked the cut of speaker Bartle Bull's bullet points:
-8 YEARS OF AN OBAMA-PELOSI-ACORN ADMINISTRATION WOULD GIVE AMERICA:
-8 YEARS OF SPREAD-THE-WEALTH SOCIALISM,
-8 YEARS OF CHICAGO-STYLE CORRUPTION, &
-8 YEARS OF UNITED NATIONS-STYLE FOREIGN POLCY
Mr Greenwald goes on to say this is the real link between Obama and Ayers:
Part of the challenge in devoting so much energy to the William Ayers argument is articulating exactly what’s problematic about it. On its face, the relationship is not worrisome to a big portion of the electorate: the juxtaposition between a hippie bomber and the elegant expositor of American unity is too preposterous for many to make sense of. Voters don’t see the line connecting the Weatherman Underground’s agenda of forty years ago to Barack Obama’s present policies. So, the connection is more easily dismissed as the unfortunate price of political success.
The case that never gets made is that the consistent political philosophy of Ayers and his associates continued to warp the mission of the Democratic Party long after the Weather Underground has become nostalgia, and that Obama is the philosophical offspring of the movement birthed by radicals such as Ayers.