Saturday, February 28, 2009

Obama's big-government ambition

The budget outline President Obama released on Thursday eliminates the likelihood that the president really intends to govern "from the center," at least on domestic issues. He sees a large-scale and active government as the key to societal success, obviously, and he means to have one. The budget puts the lie, of course, to the pretense that he can extend government responsibility for health care to millions while reducing the cost. As this Register editorial explains, there's a $600-billion-plus "down payment" on universal health care. The reductions in Medicare reimbursements, advertised as savings designed to cut costs for taxpayers, are likely to lead to more lapses in coverage, which will become the justification for yet more expensive expansion of government health coverage -- and likely were designed to do just that, though I haven't found anybody who admits to it yet.

He is a big-government liberal, and he thinks, perhaps like LBJ, that he can expand domestic programs and fight a nasty war overseas at the same time. I don't think his chances for success are high, but in the process he's likely to build precedents for further government growth. We'll have a lot to complain about for the next four years, those of us who cling to the idea that limited government better serves the long-term interests of the people. Obama will have setbacks -- even popular presidents do eventually, and he's already getting pushback from Dems, both those concerned about more bank bailouts and many unsatisfied with a too-long timetable and too many troops left in Iraq. There will be blood.

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