19 June 2009

Hurry-Up Legislating

After nearly six months of the Obama administration, it seems that one thing is clear about his method when it comes to domestic policy: I want what I want when I want it, and I want it now. Seemingly all legislative action on "big" issues - health insurance reform, cap-and-trade climate control, stimulus, Sotomayor's confirmation, the Obama budget, financial oversight and bailing - must happen immediately and with no delay. Certainly no delay for debate. The debate, they say, is over. Over on this, on that, and on that other thing. We must act now!

But perhaps the twin pushes for cap-and-trade and health insurance reform are causing even Democrats to recoil just a bit, and for an obvious reason: money. When legislators get a feel for just how much these wonderful new programs are going to cost, it appears to make them pause. Surely they understand that the trillions of dollars which would be soaked up by cap-and-trade and universal health insurance cannot be simply taken (in the form of taxation) from the 5% of the population that Mr. Obama promised during the campaign as taxable.

The speed with which Mr. Obama attempts - and in some cases, succeeds - to introduce and enact huge spending bills leads me to a pair of conclusions which cannot both be true. First, the Obama spending/legislation spree has been embarked upon so as to cram-down as much and as many liberal-progressive programs and ideology as possible in the shortest amount of time. The speed is necessary because actual debate might cause more people to actually think about what is being passed. Second, the Obama spending/legislation spree has been embarked upon so as to break the US economy. The ensuing catastrophe would be an opportunity to recreate governmental institutions through a liberal-progressive lens.

The answer to which is correct - if either is - is not as important as it is to simply slow everything down. Going slowly and asking questions on top of questions on top of questions is one of the best ways that Republicans and Obama-doubting Democrats can slow the descent into statism. What the Republicans can also do is publish competing ideas to the public at large. They should do this regardless of the cost; surely the RNC can stop sending "questionnaires" about Mr. Obama's policies and send outlines of truly conservative policy samples instead.

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