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Monday, June 12, 2006

I miss communism

It was a lousy system. Correction: it was a hideous, monstrous system. Sane people knew this, when the system was called "communism." Many thoughtful people think communism disappeared when the Berlin Wall crumbled, when the USSR disappeared, when Boris Yeltsin came to power. Wrong. The word "communism" may have vanished from common use but the dream endures in the hearts of people who have found what they think is a better vocabulary, one that doesn't set off the radar, raise red flags. (Get it? Raise "red" flags? Unintentional pun, and I'm sticking with it.) Speaking of unrepentant advocates of command economies, there's Hillary, who's nothing if not chasened by her utter failure to impose what used to be called "socialist medicine" on the American people, a decade ago.
Today, her plans to expand coverage are tempered and incremental. Her first major goal appears to be universal health coverage for children, which she hopes to advance by expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or Schip, an existing federal program up for review in 2007.
Key words: tempered and incremental. Bit by bit, step by step, cradle to grave.
"I have to do what the political reality permits me to do," Mrs. Clinton said in a recent interview. She said that covering everyone remained her ultimate goal, but that Democrats would be fighting "a lot of rear-guard actions" as long as Republicans controlled Congress.
We'll do what we can get away with. You won't see it because we'll accomplish our goals under cover of darkness.
She also continues to shy from the ultimate challenge: describing what a comprehensive Democratic health care plan would look like. When pressed, for example, on how to control costs, usually the thorniest issue, she replied: "It depends on what kind of system you're devising. And that's still not at all clear to me, what the body politic will bear."
This time we'll go slow. We won't push the electorate too hard, too fast.
Mrs. Clinton is quick to admit errors and thereby distance herself from the old plan. "I think that both the process and the plan were flawed," she said in the interview. "We were trying to do something that was very hard to do, and we made a lot of mistakes."
Our only mistakes last time were instrumental, procedural, process-oriented.
"No quick fixes. No Band-Aids," she told the group. "No partisanship or ideology. Let's retire the old debates. They haven't served our country well."
Oh, this gal is clever. She knows "the old debates" will kill her ambitions. Avoid any association with socialism. Talk about "fairness" instead. "Social justice."
Mrs. Clinton is also looking ahead to what may be the next major legislative struggle in health care: the review and renewal, in 2007, of the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Mrs. Clinton says it should be "funded to the most we can get."
She's not kidding, folks. We'll take what we can get, year by year.
Mrs. Clinton said she was also closely watching the bipartisan health plan recently approved in Massachusetts. "If you've got an executive and a legislature who are willing to work together," she said, "you can actually make progress."
"Progress" = expanding federal control of health care = by any means necessary. (Still thinking of sitting out the November elections?) I really do miss communism. I miss the word, as a reminder of the ideas. Too bad it got so overused, what with the "commies under every bed" syndrome. By whatever name, command and control economies are very bad news. Or as the inimitable P. J. O'Rourke put it:
"Health care is too expensive, so the Clinton administration is putting a high-powered coporate lawyer -- Hillary -- in charge of making it cheaper. (This is what I always do when I want to spend less money -- hire a lawyer from Yale.) If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free."