Democratic National Convention

DENVER — The air of excitement among progressive activists really is palpable here at the Democratic National Convention. Their supreme confidence that they will win the White House has been shaken a little, but they still believe Barack Obama will prevail and they are certain they will strengthen their majorities in the House and Senate. But as much as everyone here truly despises President Bush, they also refuse to credit him for all of their party’s recent electoral success. Such an argument would undermine one of their core beliefs.

As New York Times Paul Krugman put it yesterday: “America is not a conservative nation and never has been.” Arianna Huffington echoed Krugman’s assessment: “Everything that once was a left wing position, is now mainstream. We are the mainstream.”

So what are the mainstream policies the left wants government to deploy? Massive government central planning on a scale not seen since World War II, energy costs much higher than this summers high gas prices, government tracking of every U.S. citizen from cradle to grave, and government-run health care. Are these mainstream positions?

Rassmussen Reports is one of the most accurate pollsters in the country. Here are just some of their recent results on American attitude toward government: 56% of Americans believe the $170 billion stimulus package passed by Congress early this year has had no effect on the economy; 54% of Americans believe the best thing the government can do is get out of the way by reducing regulation and taxes; 62% of voters prefer fewer government services with lower taxes; 60% say higher taxes hurt the economy; and only 29% favor a national government run health care system.

Making the case that Obama’s first act as president ought to be a push for government-run health care, Krugman spun a tale about a senator visiting constituents who was told: “Senator, you need to to government out of Medicare.” For Krugman, this story proves how much Americans love big government-run health care programs like Medicare. But Krugman might want to revisit the story. If the story is true, the American in question obviously was unhappy with Medicare in some way and thought a smaller government role was the answer. After all, its not like Medicare runs well now. The system is rife with fraud and Congress has repeatedly shown it is incapable of controlling the special interests that drive Medicare’s run away costs.

A better way for both Medicare and health care reform for everyone is with a national health insurance exchange that allows Americans to choose from a wide variety of health care plans, including fee-for-service and preferred-provider options (PPOs), health maintenance organizations (HMOs), and health savings accounts (HSAs). Obama says his health care plan is like this, but there is one huge difference: Obama wants a Medicare-like program to compete with the private plans. In other words, Congress would be both a player and the umpire in the health care game. Mainstream Americans know this a recipe for disaster.

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