Obama Presidency

Democrats are Dressing Up Socialism in Free Enterprise Clothes

| by Bret Jacobson

A cursory glance suggests something attractive, fit, and
possibly a good mate. A closer investigation, however, reveals a surprisingly
ample Adam’s apple and hair in unexpected places. Likewise, though they sound
appealing in sound bytes, a thorough examination of the biggest policies being
pushed on the Democrats’ agenda exposes major socialist impositions dressed up
in the high heels of free enterprise.

Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi forced through a narrow
victory on the 1,000-plus page “cap and trade” legislation designed to
dramatically overhaul how our families and our businesses use energy.

This climate bill hides its extensive costs behind the veneer
of free market rhetoric. The scheme’s proponents have long known Americans are
unlikely to support a massive new energy tax – especially in this hard economic
time -- so they claim this government-imposed cap on greenhouse gas emissions
isn’t a tax. Instead, backers argue, it’s a system through which credits can be
bought or sold in a market function.

But the emissions market wouldn’t be free at all; lawmakers
have already begun to rig the program, picking winners and losers and earmarking
favored industries who would, in the case of the House bill, get their emission
credits free of charge.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman lifted the veil on
the political strategy behind cap-and-trade, explaining that legislators’
affinity for the bill was derived from the fact that it “doesn’t use the word
‘tax’ — even though it amounts to one.”

Indeed, it would be an enormous one. As the Competitive
Enterprise Institute’s Myron Ebell said this week, the cap and trade bill would
be “the biggest tax increase in the history of the world and the biggest
government intervention in people’s lives since the Second World War, which is
the last time that Americans needed ration coupons to buy gasoline, food, and
other necessities.”

That’s not particularly attractive, and most Americans know
it. So despite extensive efforts to tart up a tax as a market-based option, a
leading pollster found, according to Greenwire, that “Democratic efforts to sell
their agenda on energy and climate change aren’t reaching voters.” This has
spurred a course correction for the spin on cap and trade. The new shade of
lipstick, apparently, will “get America running on clean energy.”

The price tag for this “market” makeover would include
significantly higher energy prices for Americans and their employers, a drastic
reduction in jobs, and trillions in lost economic activity.

Climate isn’t the only agenda item where there’s more than
meets the eye. There’s also the president’s top domestic priority, health care.

Democrats have taken their favorite policy option --
government taking over the health care system through a single payer system --
and put it under the plastic surgery knife to come up with the market-sounding
public option “to compete with the private sector.”

Competition’s good, right? Yes, when it’s fair, competition
is the lifeblood of innovation and progress. But as critics have warned, a
public option endlessly gorging on public tax dollars would have an unfair
advantage over the private sector. Suddenly a public option is the only option.

Despite President Obama’s claims that he wants a
government-run health insurance system to compete on fair terms with private
plans, how realistic is it to expect that Congress or a later president would
not use their authority to bully the market, vote itself taxpayer subsidies, and
push out competitors by rigging the rules of the game?

Additionally, consider the President’s claim that
government-run health insurance could out-market the market and actually reduce
waste and improve efficiency. Presumably, he’s taking heart from such rousing
successes as the DMV and public education.

Whether Democrats’ cross-dressing “capitalism” tries to
dominate our health care system or exert power over our energy market, the naked
truth is ugly.

Bret Jacobson writes about energy and environment at