Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Once Again, Shocked by Washington

I was shocked to learn today that the Congressional Budget Office revised upward the cost projections for ObamaCare. Back when the legislation was passed, the President had assured us that the total cost of the bill would come in under the magic number of 1 trillion dollars. In his State of the Union speech he had told us that the total cost, all in, would be 940 billion over ten years, or about what we had spent fighting Iraq and Afghanistan. The bean-counting, green eye shade, penny pinchers in Congress had accused the administration of accounting gimmicks. They pointed out that the ten year projections conveniently counted only 6 years of actual spending, while counting ten years of tax receipts, made possible by delaying full implementation until 2014. Obama countered that there would be so much savings wrought by the genius of his reforms that any future costs would be offset by the brilliance of his cost reduction strategies. Today, the CBO begs to differ. The revised costs of ObamaCare is now estimated to be 1.74 trillion over the next ten years, or roughly double what we all were led to believe.

Imagine that. A government program coming in severely over budget. I'm stunned. These are, after all, the best and brightest minds that academia has to offer. The president famously stacked his governing team with professors, career government employees, community organizers, and public policy advocates of every size, creed and ethnicity. No more would we be held back by men and women from the fever-swamps of commerce, finance and business, especially businesses that exist to earn evil profits. No, this administration would be manned( and womanned?) with only the best minds in the public sector. Surely, there weren't any problems we faced as a nation that couldn't be solved if only we rid ourselves of the insidious influence of the merchant class.

Actually, who could blame them? The kind of business leaders that have helped shape public policy under previous administrations had been the type who were highly skilled at promoting their own interest instead of the nations' interest. The knuckleheads that gave us subsidies for ethanol, farming, green energy, were all businessmen. Maybe once you're successful enough in business to become interested enough in government, you're already too far gone. The new definition of Crony Capitalist should be any businessman who travels to Washington, without the aid of a subpoena. All the great businessmen I have ever known have never shown the slightest interest in getting tangled up in politics. Even the great Warren Buffet had the wisdom to wait until he had already made his bones before trying to become the Democratic party's favorite billionaire.

It occurs to me that the one era in American history that produced the greatest economic growth happens to be the era from which no one can name a President. Here's a quiz. Without resorting to Google, name any three Presidents from the period between 1870 and 1900. (Jeopardy music playing). Hint, there were a total of 7 and one of them actually got elected despite tipping the scales at a robust 310 pounds..clearly before television. ( More Jeopardy music). Times up. Yeah, I thought so. You know the reason you don't know those guys? Because back then all of the smartest, most gifted and capable men went into business, not politics. Ever heard of Andrew Carnigie? You know, the guy who started as an immigrant with less than nothing and became the richest man in the world since Solomon, then spent the last half of his life giving it all away, building not only the finest concert hall in the country but over 1400 libraries in city after city across the country...THAT Andrew Carnigie. He was the brightest light this coutry produced during those years, and I dare say, we as a nation are better for it.

I  am not distressed at the lack of great men and women in politics. I rather long for the day when great men and women are not required to be in politics. Sure, there are times when we need greatness, but most of the time we need mere competence, let the greats go elsewhere. We will all be better off when they do.