June 16, 2009

June 16, 2009 | Commentary on Economy

Breaking Down Government Motors

During a recent speech denouncing capitalism, Venezuelan strong man Hugo Chavez said, "Obama has just nationalized nothing more and nothing less than General Motors. Comrade Obama! Fidel, careful or we are going to end up to his right." The conversion of General Motors to Government Motors should be of grave concern to all Americans. It appears that President Bush's bailout of Wall Street merely set the table for an all-out assault by the Obama administration on capitalism.

Thankfully, freedom still has a voice in Congress. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) introduced legislation that would require Congressional approval before the government takes ownership of a private enterprise. This bill would allow Congress to stop the current shift away from free-market principles.

Johanns is not the only free-marketer. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has introduced legislation to require the federal government to distribute its ownership shares in General Motors and Chrysler to taxpayers when those companies emerge from bankruptcy proceedings. Alexander argues, "instead of theTreasury owning 60 percent of shares in the new GM and 8 percent of Chrysler, you would own them, if you were one of about 120 million individuals who paid taxes on April 15. This is the fastest way to get the stock out of the hands of Washington and back into the hands of the American people in the marketplace where it belongs."

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) also joined the fray last weekend, introducing legislation that would restore private ownership to companies that have been effectively nationalized. The Thune proposal would make July 1, 2010 a new day of independence. By that date, the government would have to sell any ownership stake acquired over the past year-and-a-half. There's no better way to fight the ever-expanding power of the federal government's ownership in private enterprises than to legislate it out of existence.

Speaking of debt, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told the House Budget Committee earlier this month "we cannot allow ourselves to be in a situation where the debt continues to rise." Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) responded, "Bernanke helped open up the floodgates of government spending for the last year. Did he finally have an epiphany this morning before the House Budget Committee or is he just trying to cover-up his mistakes? America is looking at mounting debt because of Chairman Bernanke's support of policies that will put the American taxpayer an estimated $2.8 trillion more in the red." The recent explosion of government spending and expansion of the money supply by the Fed are poor decisions by the Obama administration that will further lead America down the pothole-filled road to socialism.

The Supreme Court of Health Care

The recently released health reform legislation drafted by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) contains numerous provisions that propose fundamental changes to our health care system. Many are deeply troubling. One is the call for a Medical Advisory Council that would be comprised of Washington bureaucrats with the power to make significant decisions on health policy for all Americans. This Council would become the Supreme Court of health care, and these unelected bureaucrats would make final decisions about your treatment options.

The Kennedy bill includes an individual mandate requiring all Americans to purchase a health insurance plan approved by the federal government. The Medical Advisory Council would decide what constitutes a "qualified health insurance plan." It would also determine the "essential health care benefits" that would be included in the much-discussed and debated public-run government plan that would compete against private health insurance plans if it's created.

To recap: a faceless group of Washington bureaucrats could be making life-and-death decisions about private health care for individuals.

Rather than propose reforms that truly offer Americans better and more affordable health care, Senate Democrats and the Obama administration seem eager to expand the role of government in the lives of individual Americans and their families. By pushing legislation that contains things like the Medical Advisory Board these politicians are endangering our freedoms and seek to come between individuals and their health care choices.

"Save" the Climate -- Hurt Farmers

The national energy tax snaking its way through the House of Representatives has a new potential victim -- farmers. The cap-and-trade scheme would increase energy prices, building costs and a slow the economy. My colleagues at The Heritage Foundation calculate that farm income, which is the pre-tax amount that farmers live on after all their expenses, would drop 28% in the bill's first year. In 2035, the last year analyzed, farm income drops a whopping 98%. These numbers should raise a red flag for Midwesteners, and cause concern among all Americans who eat.

Brian Darling is director of U.S. Senate Relations at The Heritage Foundation

About the Author

Brian Darling Senior Fellow for Government Studies
Government Studies

First Appeared in Human Events