THE EARTHQUAKE THAT SHOOK MASSACHUSETTS
Attorney Jonathan Emord
January 25, 2010
The election of Republican Scott Brown to the senate seat formerly held by the late Democratic scion Ted Kennedy (who dominated Massachusetts and national politics since 1962) is sending a shock wave through the nation’s Capitol devastating to the political fortunes of leading Democrats, particularly the President, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Unlike the hapless Haitians who have fallen prey to the awful power of nature, the Democratic leadership is reaping what it sowed.
The victory of Brown over state Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley now leaves the Democrats reeling, highly uncertain about the ground beneath their feet. They staked their all on passage of the health care reform bill, a grossly expensive $871 billion expansion of federal regulatory management over the provision and payment for medical services combined with new taxes that threatened to dumb down health insurance and the quality of care to the lowest common denominator. That bill is likely not to pass Congress, particularly in light of the President’s prudent decision to postpone action on it until after Scott Brown assumes his Senate seat. It is not simply the Brown election that is changing the federal landscape, it is the after the fact epiphany many members are now experiencing, awakening as Johnny-come-latelies to the reality that the public is sick and tired of broken promises that nevertheless cost billions and pipe dreams that cannot be afforded under even the rosiest circumstances.
President Obama’s coattails are as short as a mini-skirt. Just a year after his election, he lacks the influence necessary to sway the electorate that put him in office. His major forays into local politics on the side of Democrats have produced an unimpressive 0-3 record, as voters repeatedly kicked the Democrats out of power in New Jersey, Virginia, and now Massachusetts. In New Jersey, Democratic Governor Jon Corzine lost to Republican Chris Christie despite a personal visit and appeal from the President. In Virginia, Republican Bob McDonnell sacked Democrat Creigh Deeds, again despite a personal visit and appeal from the President. Finally, with the President days before the election pleading with voters to back Coakley, Brown who had been over 15 points behind in the polls surged ahead and defeated the well-known Coakley transferring power to Republican hands for the first time in over forty-five years. These three elections reveal great public dissatisfaction with Democratic leadership in Washington.
But lest I be viewed as a happy backer of Republicans now in Washington, it is important to note that the Republicans give the public just as much distaste because that party too continues to be dominated by those who prefer self-interest over principle. Ronald Reagan’s ideals that once filled the party appear buried with him and are in sore need of exhumation. For many, it would be better to be ruled by Ronald Reagan from the grave than it would be by any number of Republicans now holding office. A clean sweep is required to bring into office those who so love this country and its founding ideals that they would sacrifice their careers to achieve a restoration of limited government, a free enterprise economy, and a strong national defense with a clear vision of the nation’s interests and how best to protect them. We need a return to greatness brought about through a moratorium on federal taxation, elimination of regulations that pose barriers to market entry, and a return to a free market system, including a free market in medical care.
The Democratic leadership is suffering from a crisis in confidence not unlike that suffered by the Republicans before their ouster in the last presidential election. The failure of those in Washington to provide meaningful changes to relieve the nation’s lagging economy from regulatory and tax burdens and to respect the free market as the only engine by which we may restore economic growth is leading to considerable angst. Unemployment figures are creeping up to 20%, nearing levels of the Great Depression. Despite a Democratic majority in both Houses and Democratic control of the White House the President is incapable of seeing the forest for the trees. Pumping over $13 trillion into politically preferred segments of the economy (with much never reaching the market because it is gobbled up by the bureaucracy designed to administer the programs), he is reaping precisely what one would predict from government largesse, nothing substantive in return.
The dollars do not address the core recurring issue confronting main street—how to keep what is earned to grow one’s business and hire new employees. What they do not seem to get is that business is failing not because it is intrinsically bad but because it cannot afford to continue—some of that is due to miscalculations of consumer demand, some of that is due to undue influence of government in favor of bad economic choices, and some of that is due to the inability to finance the regulatory costs of staying in business. All businesses that suffer, however, need immediate and meaningful relief that can permit those that provide goods and services needed by people to survive a reduction in consumer demand. The surest way to provide that relief is to eliminate taxes and regulatory restraints.
In addition to imposing a government command and control model that history has proven a failure repeatedly since the Eighteenth Century (and a profound failure when imposed during an economic downturn), the Democratic leadership is a victim of grossly unscrupulous behavior (apparently respecting no limit to the amount of tax dollars they will spend to achieve the political objective of national health insurance). Recent machinations to force through the dreadful health care reform bill have added mightily to public disillusionment with a Congress so unprincipled that it would sacrifice the financial security of the nation to buy the support of a single United States senator.
To win the vote of Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sold the proverbial farm. He made the incredibly irresponsible promise to Nelson, which Nelson accepted (revealing his own poor judgment), that Nebraska would be exempt from any costs from the provision of Medicaid services in that state indefinitely into the future. Yes, an open-ended promise carrying a limitless price-tag. On December 31, 2009, thirteen attorneys general wrote to Senators Pelosi and Reid a very stern letter or rebuke. They charged that Ben Nelson’s “vote was brazenly and openly bought in a back room deal.” The Attorneys General wrote:
On Christmas Eve, December 24, Senator Nelson delivered an unwanted Christmas present to America when he gave his vote to its purchaser—United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid—and the dirty deal was done. Senator Nelson’s price was high—a reported one hundred million dollars in new Medicaid expense exemptions for Nebraska—forever. This high price was acceptable and agreed to by Senator Reid and the Democratic Leadership because they had no problem forcing the taxpayers [of all other states] to pick up the tab for their vote buying.
The opportunity now exists for Republicans to reclaim the high road paved and traveled upon by President Reagan. Honest and principled men and women, who understand our Constitution of Liberty and pledge to reestablish it need to enter politics and satisfy the public demand for a restoration of American greatness. They must emphasize at every turn that the promise of a government solution to every problem is a false promise, one that will not solve the nation’s ills but will add to them and will come at the expense of individual liberty.
We may learn a significant lesson from the election returns in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts. In a time of national crisis, voters have little tolerance for those who make promises only to abandon them and make new promises only to abandon them in an endless quest to please despite the inability to perform. They instead appreciate honest direction which is simple yet profound: To prosper, the economy must grow. To grow, the economy must be relieved of costs that now cripple its advance.
To relieve the economy of those costs requires that taxes and regulations be eliminated, meaning that we must have much less government and much more freedom to enter the market, compete, and enjoy the fruits of our labors. We must return to what made America great: limited government, free enterprise, and a strong national defense.
© 2010 Jonathan W. Emord - All Rights Reserved