Monday, November 24, 2008

The only issue that matters

Mona Charen covering last week's National Review Institute conference:
The most important battle, Yuval Levin of the Ethics and Public Policy Center argued, will be health care. If health care is successfully nationalized in America, the case for a smaller and less bureaucratic state becomes immeasurably more difficult. Throughout the developed world, in countries that have adopted socialized medicine, every call to limit the size and scope of government is instantly caricatured as an attempt to take medicine away from the weak and sick. People become awfully attached to "free" medical care even though it is emphatically not free (it is supported through higher taxes), even though it requires waiting periods for care (even in cases of cancer and other serious illnesses), and even though it deprives people of the latest technology (the city of Pittsburgh has more MRI scanners than the entire nation of Canada).
Philip Klein said the same thing in July:
[T]he worst possible thing that could happen for conservatives during an Obama administration, would be for him to create a government-run health-care system. . . .
Both in terms of the sheer cost, as well as the psychological impact of putting the state in control of our life and death decisions, this would represent the final defeat for advocates of limited government, because if history is a guide, such reforms will never be undone.
This was why Republican support for Medicare Part D was such a gutless and self-defeating move. Twisting arms to secure passage, Tom DeLay sought to buy off senior citizens in an election year by pushing through the largest entitlement expansion since LBJ. But Republicans can never outbid Democrats on entitlements, and the attempt to do so undermines the GOP's credibility on the size-of-government argument.

Now, when Obama starts pushing for nationalized health care, Republicans will have both diminished numbers and diminished credibility in their opposition.

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