The Liberal Compassion Mirage

October 18, 2007

Two recent news items remind us of the disconnect between the Democrats’ claimed monopoly on compassion and the effects of their policies.

First, consider the emotionally charged public debate over President Bush’s veto of a proposed expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Programs.

Standing by congressional Democrats in their push to override the veto, singer Paul Simon said with earnest indignation, “The president’s veto of the reauthorization of SCHIP appears to be a heartless act. I’m here today to ask those of you who supported the veto to reexamine your conscience, to find compassion in your heart for our most vulnerable and sweetest citizens, our children.”

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, the compassionate Simon is obviously unaware that the matter is not as simple as merely throwing money at the problem. To quote House Minority Leader John Boehner, “There are 500,000 kids in America who are eligible for this program who have not been signed up, yet there are some 700,000 adults who are already on the program.”

Simon, unlike the Democrats pulling his puppet strings, must not realize that President Bush supports a $5 billion expansion, not reduction, of the program, or that the Democrats’ plan goes far beyond providing a safety net to the needy. It would allow states to make coverage available to families with incomes greater than $60,000 a year, which would entice people who can well afford private health insurance to opt for state coverage.

Is it good for the children for Democrats to exploit them as props in their quest to force socialized medicine on this nation, one incremental step at a time? Will the inevitably long waiting lines and substantially reduced quality of care be good for the children?

Why can’t congressional Democrats just admit they have a soft spot for socialism: that they believe capitalism results in too much economic disparity and that government -– the Constitution be damned –- should redistribute wealth to suit their ideas of fairness? Never mind that a command-control economy results in a smaller economic pie. What matters is they care, and by gosh, they’re willing to forcibly transfer other people’s money to prove it.

As another example, consider the Democrats’ obstruction of President Bush’s efforts to reform Social Security. Who can forget the Democrats’ (Bill Clinton’s, Al Gore’s) insistence that the future solvency of this entitlement was in such jeopardy that it must be placed off limits in a lock box?

Yet when President Bush attempted to reform this “third rail of politics,” Democrats didn’t just oppose the eminently sensible “partial privatization” aspect of his plan. They went further, completely reversing themselves and denying the system was in trouble at all. Our old friend Sen. Harry Reid said, “Social Security is not in crisis. It’s a crisis the president’s created, period. … The president has never seen a crisis he hasn’t created. … [Bush is] exaggerating the solvency.”

This time they went to the other end of the chronological spectrum and used seniors as props. Here again, they pretended to be intervening for the very group of people their demagogic opposition was sure to harm: future Social Security recipients.

Demonstrating once more their contempt for the private sector and free markets, they tried to scare seniors into believing President Bush was imperiling Social Security with his very modest proposal to allow participants to invest a small portion of their own funds.

Bush’s valiant effort was dead on arrival, and we kicked the ball down the road. This week, we were reminded of the consequences of this reckless procrastination when the first baby boomer of a projected 80 million, Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, applied for her benefits. Despite the Democrats’ denials in the name of protecting seniors –- most of whom are not yet seniors –- Social Security outlays are projected to exceed its receipts by 2041.

In the meantime, Democrat presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, in the spirit of compassion, is advancing new plans every other week to dole out yet more government money to various groups of voters, er, beneficiaries. These newly promised funds obviously will not be available to pay off maturing Social Security IOUs. But without the slightest self-consciousness, Hillary rails against President Bush for irresponsibly increasing the deficit — though the deficit is, in fact, decreasing.

But don’t you ever forget how much she cares about the children whose financial future she’s mortgaging. Just believe her and her colleagues that it is evil Republicans who are bankrupting our children with tax cuts that have grown the economy and shrunk the deficit.

Conservatives must be prepared in this campaign season to return to their own free-market principles and expose the liberals’ compassion for the ruse it is.