The Shape of Things to Come?

The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, in an open letter to Sen. John McCain concerning why the pursuit of unnecessary AGW remedies will destroy America, included this very interesting paragraph:

Britain and the United States, like England and Scotland on the first page of Macaulay’s splendid History of England, are bound to one another by “indissoluble bonds of interest and affection”. Here in this little archipelago from which your Pilgrim Fathers sailed, we have a love-love relationship with what Walt Whitman called your “athletic democracy”. You came to our aid – to the aid of the world – when Britain had stood alone against the mad menace of Hitler. Your fearless forces and ours fight shoulder to shoulder today on freedom’s far frontiers. The shortest but most heartfelt of our daily prayers has just three words: “God bless America!” For these reasons – of emotion as much as of economics, of affection as much as of interest – it matters to us that the United States should thrive and prosper. We cannot endure to see her fail, not only because if she fails the world fails, but also because, as the philosopher George Santayana once said of the British Empire and might well now have said of our sole superpower, “the world never had sweeter masters.” If the United States, by the ignorance and carelessness of her classe politique, mesmerized by the climate bugaboo, casts away the vigorous and yet benign economic hegemony that she has exercised almost since the Founding Fathers first breathed life into her enduring Constitution, it will not be a gentle, tolerant, all-embracing, radically-democratic nation that takes up the leadership of the world.

You should read all of Monckton’s letter to McCain, as it does a very good job of pointing out the fallacies in the AGW crowd’s arguments.

But I highlight the paragraph for another reason. Monckton is concerned that pursuing a “cure” for AGW would end up bankrupting America and reduce both its stature and influence in the world, thereby enabling an less well intentioned nation (or group of nations) to ascend to super-power status.

But there are other ways in which that can happen as well. One that has the possibility of accomplishing the same diminished status for the US is that of unfettered Democratic power in both the Congress and the Presidency.

Anyone who believes that Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama represent mainstream America are simply deluding themselves. The three represent – again, in my opinion – a radical shift to the left for this country.

So what might this ruling triumvirate undertake when handed that sort of power?

Well, via the Wall Street Journal, here are a few things to consider:

– Medicare for all. When HillaryCare cratered in 1994, the Democrats concluded they had overreached, so they carved up the old agenda into smaller incremental steps, such as Schip for children. A strongly Democratic Congress is now likely to lay the final flagstones on the path to government-run health insurance from cradle to grave.

Look for SCHIP to pass immediately (households of $80,000 and “children” of 23 included) and then look for a modified “Hillary-care” package to begin to work its way through Congress. Again, a reminder that the same people who managed to get us into this financial crisis are now going to try to “help” us by managing our health care.

Mr. Obama wants to build a public insurance program, modeled after Medicare and open to everyone of any income. According to the Lewin Group, the gold standard of health policy analysis, the Obama plan would shift between 32 million and 52 million from private coverage to the huge new entitlement. Like Medicare or the Canadian system, this would never be repealed.

The commitments would start slow, so as not to cause immediate alarm. But as U.S. health-care spending flowed into the default government options, taxes would have to rise or services would be rationed, or both. Single payer is the inevitable next step, as Mr. Obama has already said is his ultimate ideal.

And that will be the death of incentive, innovation and the best health care in the world.

– The business climate. “We have some harsh decisions to make,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned recently, speaking about retribution for the financial panic. Look for a replay of the Pecora hearings of the 1930s, with Henry Waxman, John Conyers and Ed Markey sponsoring ritual hangings to further their agenda to control more of the private economy. The financial industry will get an overhaul in any case, but telecom, biotech and drug makers, among many others, can expect to be investigated and face new, more onerous rules. See the “Issues and Legislation” tab on Mr. Waxman’s Web site for a not-so-brief target list.

The danger is that Democrats could cause the economic downturn to last longer than it otherwise will by enacting regulatory overkill like Sarbanes-Oxley. Something more punitive is likely as well, for instance a windfall profits tax on oil, and maybe other industries.

It is going to be open war on “Big Oil”, “Big Pharma“, “Big Insurance” and “greedy” Wall Street as well as most of the rest of corporate America. Look for a windfall profits tax to pass quickly and watch as prices at the pump go up while exploration goes down. Both, although they won’t admit it, are exactly what much of the left passionately want to happen. Less fuel used and less oil pumped out of the ground while we waste billions pursuing the vapor-ware of “alternative energy”.

– Union supremacy. One program certain to be given right of way is “card check.” Unions have been in decline for decades, now claiming only 7.4% of the private-sector work force, so Big Labor wants to trash the secret-ballot elections that have been in place since the 1930s. The “Employee Free Choice Act” would convert workplaces into union shops merely by gathering signatures from a majority of employees, which means organizers could strongarm those who opposed such a petition.

The bill also imposes a compulsory arbitration regime that results in an automatic two-year union “contract” after 130 days of failed negotiation. The point is to force businesses to recognize a union whether the workers support it or not. This would be the biggest pro-union shift in the balance of labor-management power since the Wagner Act of 1935.

This is one “Big” that won’t be warred upon. Big Labor has labored (and spent) mightily to have the probable political situation we’re discussing become a reality. That’s because without a friendly federal government to pass legislation which forces into being situations which favor labor unions, they’d continue in decline. For all his nonsense about not taking “corporate lobbyist’s money”, Barack Obama is absolutely beholden to labor unions in this election. They have committed millions of dollars and millions of man hours toward his election, and they expect to be paid back. If you believe that special-interest democracy will die if Barack Obama is elected, you simply haven’t been paying attention.

– Taxes. Taxes will rise substantially, the only question being how high. Mr. Obama would raise the top income, dividend and capital-gains rates for “the rich,” substantially increasing the cost of new investment in the U.S. More radically, he wants to lift or eliminate the cap on income subject to payroll taxes that fund Medicare and Social Security. This would convert what was meant to be a pension insurance program into an overt income redistribution program. It would also impose a probably unrepealable increase in marginal tax rates, and a permanent shift upward in the federal tax share of GDP.

Only the Kool-Aid drinkers and the economically ignorant (and those aren’t mutually exclusive groups) believe that an Obama administration can A) cut taxes for 95% of America and B) add a trillion dollars in new spending and C) do it on the back of the “5%” rich.

It’s nonsense on a stick. Look for corporate, capital gains, estate – any tax now existing that you can imagine, except, perhaps income taxes for those who pay no income taxes, to rise. If you can’t tax the people directly, then tax them indirectly to get the funds needed to pay for your government run utopia.

And watch the results.

– The green revolution. A tax-and-regulation scheme in the name of climate change is a top left-wing priority. Cap and trade would hand Congress trillions of dollars in new spending from the auction of carbon credits, which it would use to pick winners and losers in the energy business and across the economy. Huge chunks of GDP and millions of jobs would be at the mercy of Congress and a vast new global-warming bureaucracy. Without the GOP votes to help stage a filibuster, Senators from carbon-intensive states would have less ability to temper coastal liberals who answer to the green elites.

Give it a couple of years, but this is also coming. This is what Monckton was addressing in his letter to McCain and it is well worth the read. But add this costly boondoggle on top of an already fragile economy and watch the result. If this is allowed to be imposed, it won’t be a matter of “if”, but “when” it all falls down.

Free speech and voting rights. A liberal supermajority would move quickly to impose procedural advantages that could cement Democratic rule for years to come. One early effort would be national, election-day voter registration. This is a long-time goal of Acorn and others on the “community organizer” left and would make it far easier to stack the voter rolls. The District of Columbia would also get votes in Congress — Democratic, naturally.

Felons may also get the right to vote nationwide, while the Fairness Doctrine is likely to be reimposed either by Congress or the Obama FCC. A major goal of the supermajority left would be to shut down talk radio and other voices of political opposition.

We’ve already seen the ham-handed attempts by ACORN at fraudulent voter registration in battle-ground states and how that can translate into fraudulent votes via absentee ballots. The integrity of the voting system has never been under a more concerted attack than it is right now. And I have to agree with the WSJ that a Democratic Congress and President would happily help those attacks along. Don’t forget that when Obama and ACORN did work together it was on a law suit in favor of the “Motor Voter” bill.

And, while I’m not sure it will ever succeed, even with a Democratic majority, I do look for an attempt to reimpose the grossly misnamed Fairness Doctrine.

– Special-interest potpourri. Look for the watering down of No Child Left Behind testing standards, as a favor to the National Education Association. The tort bar’s ship would also come in, including limits on arbitration to settle disputes and watering down the 1995 law limiting strike suits. New causes of legal action would be sprinkled throughout most legislation. The anti-antiterror lobby would be rewarded with the end of Guantanamo and military commissions, which probably means trying terrorists in civilian courts. Google and MoveOn.org would get “net neutrality” rules, subjecting the Internet to intrusive regulation for the first time.

The trial lawyers will feast, the eco-nuts will forage and the pork barrel will be full – but only for the favored special interests. All of that added to the possibilities above should send a cold shiver down your spine.

The WSJ notes that some of this might be tempered by the economic situation during the next couple of years. And indeed, it may. But that certainly wouldn’t stop enabling legislation from being prepared and passed.

And then there’s the Supreme Court.

Transformational election? The possibility certainly exists. But transformational in a way that would see the Founding Fathers again furtively meeting and planning revolution.

[Crossposted at QandO]

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