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Friday, August 14, 2009

Bleeding Heart Liberalism: Theory Vs. Reality

One of the most remarkable things about the implosion of the Obama agenda is that on principle it's no different from anything that he campaigned on. A couple years ago I spoke with Republican activist who told me that the Republicans were losing the health care debate. I couldn't believe that the public at large was being swayed by socialized medicine but in fact for the last two years of the Bush administration that's exactly what was happening.

Of course, that was only happening while socialized medicine was a theoretical process. By theoretical, I mean the concept in which everyone got insured, health insurance providers were kept in check, and everyone lived happily ever after. When it was purely conceptual,

Then, an actual bill had to be proposed and we saw details. We see that you can't add nearly 50 million people onto the health care system and not 1) increase costs dramatically or 2) cut medical care for everyone else. Once a bill that did conceptually was put in front of the folks, the compassion of covering everyone turned into a massive government takeover.

There's a similar dynamic to the government's loan modification program. In the campaign, the president constantly bemoaned the poor borrower that was taken advantage of. He promised to help all the poor borrowers and make sure to do everything he could to keep them in their homes. Then, he became president and introduced his loan modification plan. In a loan modification, a borrower that is struggling to pay their mortgage receives a new loan with new lower payments. Once that plan was put in front of the public, it was overwhelmingly rejected. It lead to Rick Santelli's now infamous and viral rant.

When candidate Obama was promising to save homeowners in the theoretical, he appeared to be compasssionate and standing up for the little guy. Once he put a policy behind this "compassion", the people rejected it as rewarding bad and irresponsible behavior.

Also all throughout the campaign, the president bemoaned the loss of manufacturing jobs and promised to keep millions of manufacturing jobs at home. Then, he became president and bailed out and took over both Chrysler and GM. The public overwhelmingly rejected that policy as well. Once again, in the abstract, bleeding heart liberalism sounded great, but in reality, the policy behind it was overwhelmingly rejected.

You remember in the campaign when then candidate Obama famously proclaimed that "we'll look back on today as the day that the rivers started to recede and the earth would be saved". Then, we find out that to save the earth the president proposes a bill that's a complicated mess that one Congress person described as thus.

The truth is, nobody knows for sure how this is going to work

Saving the planet is fine when you speak about it abstractly. When people find out that in order to save the planet, you'll design a complicated scheme that will increase energy costs for everyone dramatically it doesn't sound as good.

Finally, there's the stimulus. Remember during the campaign when the president bemoaned the economy 2001-2008 as one that rewarded the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. How did the president level the playing field? He imposed a near $1 trillion spending bill that was nothing more than an endless stream of pork. It's one thing to talk about "leveling the playing field", but in reality there is no policy to do that. As it turns out, the policy to level the playing field is the biggest pork laden spending bill in our history.

There's the difference between bleeding heart liberalism in theory and reality. In theory, it all sounds compassionate and caring. In reality, it's nothing more than big government tax and spend policies. That's why it was overwhelmingly accepted during the campaign. There was only concepts then. For similar reasons, it's being overwhelmingly rejected. The specific policies aren't compassionate or caring. They're just more of the kind of big government tax and spend policies that have failed over and over.