What Terrorism, Healthcare, Unemployment Have in Common

Monday, 11 Jan 2010 04:56 PM

By Ernest Istook

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There are links between terrorist attacks, job losses, and the healthcare legislation that is being completed behind closed doors. Just connect the dots:

• A massive failed bureaucracy didn’t protect Flight 253 from a would-be bomber, so why expect that an even-larger bureaucracy can protect our health?

• With 10 percent unemployment and 85,000 more jobs lost during the Christmas buying season, why pass a healthcare bill that promises to be a huge job-killer?

The common factor is that big government cannot efficiently guarantee homeland security or job security, much less health security. Big government is killing the economy by making it too risky for companies to create jobs.

While terrorist attacks and the suffering job market push healthcare out of the headlines, the threat of government-run healthcare moves ahead stealthily behind closed doors. Its hallmarks are exorbitant costs, extreme bureaucracy, and no help for the 85 percent of Americans who have coverage they find satisfactory (but just wish it didn’t cost so much). But the legislation is no longer about them.

As one writer observed, “What started as a plan to find ways to cover people who don't have insurance transformed into thousands of pages of new regulations, mandates, prohibitions, oversight and general central control.”

Both House and Senate bills would retain an army of existing health bureaucrats, and add a new bureaucracy under the “health czar”— formally known as the “Health Choices Commissioner”— with far more intrusive regimentation of your life than any airport screening system.

Adding more taxpayer-funded bureaucracy was President Obama’s announced response to a failed security system, and he’s applying that same approach to healthcare, just as he does to jobs.

When the Labor Department announced the loss of 85,000 more jobs, President Obama’s “solution” was to subsidize a claimed 17,000 “green” jobs by giving $2.3 billion in subsidies to wind and solar energy. That works out to $135,295 in taxpayer money per job, but will also kill more jobs than it creates, by displacing current energy sector jobs.

Reality doesn’t work the way Obama claims. We already have 7.7 million fewer jobs than Obama promised we’d have if we passed his $787 billion “stimulus” package. And most jobs “saved or created” were government jobs.

Voters are not fooled. According to Rasmussen Reports, “Half of voters nationwide (50%) say increases in government spending hurts the overall economy. Just 28% says increased government spending helps the economy.”

So why make the job market worse by passing President Obama’s healthcare plan? The Heritage Foundation has assessed that the pending healthcare legislation — with its taxes, regulations and mandates — will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Big government is holding back the economy. More big government is the disease, not the cure.

As one business analyst writes, "Unemployment is at 10 percent and all these businesses see are higher costs in the future from healthcare and other policies — so they are hoarding cash. They're making money, but why logically would any businessman use this money to expand if he doesn't know what all his costs will be because of the expansion of these government programs?"

Our biggest job-creators, small businesses, are especially skittish. As NFIB (National Federation of Independent Businesses) reports, after its latest national survey of small business, the problem is the uncertainty caused by big government:

“The horizon is filled with cost unknowns, from healthcare to cap-and-trade to yawning deficits and the need to come to grips with them, from paid family and medical leave to card check, from expiration of the Bush tax cuts to state decisions about their finances.

Washington cannot expect small business owners, facing difficult economic circumstances anyway, to commit themselves to investing in new employees or equipment and vehicles without acknowledging and revealing the policy-inspired costs that will be imposed on them. It is all about uncertainty and confidence.”

A similar description was offered in the Wall Street Journal by economic scholars from Stanford and the University of Chicago (including Nobel Prize winner Gary S. Becker), who summarized the job-stifling threat as “changes that could radically transform the American economy.”

As President Ronald Reagan so often reminded us, government is not the solution . . . It’s the problem.

Ernest Istook, a former U.S. Congressman from Oklahoma, is now a Distinguished Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Cross-posted from www.foundry.org.

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