Saturday, March 27, 2010

A battle won, but a victory?
...On Sunday, as will happen every day for two decades, another 10,000 baby boomers became eligible for Social Security and Medicare. And Congress moved closer to piling a huge new middle-class entitlement onto the rickety structure of America's Ponzi welfare state. Congress has a one-word response to the demographic deluge and the scores of trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities: "More."

There will be subsidized health insurance for families of four earning up to $88,200 a year, a ceiling certain to be raised, repeatedly. The accounting legerdemain spun to make this seem affordable -- e.g., cuts (to Medicare) and taxes (on high-value insurance plans) that will never happen -- is Enronesque.

As America's teetering tower of unkeepable promises grows, so does the weight of government, in taxes and mandates that limit investments and discourage job creation. America's dynamism, and hence upward social mobility, will slow, as the economy becomes what the party of government wants it to be -- increasingly dependent on government-created demand.

Promoting dependency is the Democratic Party's vocation. The party knows that almost all entitlements are forever, and those that are not -- e.g., the lifetime eligibility for welfare, repealed in 1996 -- are not for the middle class. Democrats believe, plausibly, that middle-class entitlements are instantly addictive and, because there is no known detoxification, that class, when facing future choices between trimming entitlements or increasing taxes, will choose the latter. The taxes will disproportionately burden high earners, thereby tightening the noose of society's dependency on government for investments and job creation. ...

...The bill is a museum of hoary artifacts from liberalism's attic. The identity politics of quasi-quotas? The secretary of health and human services "in awarding grants and contracts under this section . . . shall give preferences to entities that have a demonstrated record of . . . training individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups or disadvantaged backgrounds." And the bill creates an Advisory Council on Green, High-Performing Public School Facilities and grants for "retrofitting necessary to increase the energy efficiency and water efficiency of public school facilities." ...