What leftists want

Andy Matthews

In the 2000 Mel Gibson film "What Women Want," main character Nick Marshall acquires, via a freak electrical shock, the ability to read women's minds.

This newfound capacity to know what women are thinking — to know what they really want, as opposed to what they say they want — proves extremely helpful in Marshall's subsequent efforts to woo potential female companions.

Now, let's suppose for a moment that American voters everywhere were suddenly to acquire such a talent — but instead of being able to read women's minds, we were able to access the inner thoughts of leftist politicians. What would we learn?

The most useful thing we'd discover is this: that all of the major legislative items the Obama administration has pushed or is pushing are being sold to the American people on wholly disingenuous grounds.

The administration and its allies have repeatedly proposed big, sweeping legislation — the stimulus package, health care reform, cap-and-trade — that supposedly is intended to solve major crises the nation faces: our slumping economy, inefficiencies in our health care system, and climate change, respectively. The seemingly excessive means, we're told, are all aimed at accomplishing noble ends.

But were we all suddenly to become mind readers, we'd discover that something entirely different is really going on here. Indeed, the reality is that, when it comes to the Obama agenda, the means themselves are the ends.

Take the stimulus, for instance. The American people were told that absent a massive government spending spree totaling hundreds of billions of dollars, the American economy faced disaster from which it might never recover. Yet six months after passage, things have gotten worse, not better. The reason? There was nothing in the stimulus package that could reasonably be expected to stimulate any kind of positive economic activity. Instead, it was chock-full of political paybacks and giveaways to sympathizers and supporters of leftist causes.

Then there's health care reform. President Obama has bemoaned the high costs and supposedly low quality of the American health care system, and has even granted a key argument of free-market adherents: that increased competition is a necessary ingredient of any recipe intended to solve these problems. Yet what would the proposed legislation do? Create a "public option" for health insurance coverage — the most surefire way to reduce (and, eventually, eliminate) competition in the health insurance market. The solutions now being offered, in other words, would actually exacerbate, rather than ameliorate, the ills of American health care.

And let's not forget cap-and-trade. Without aggressive government intervention to curb carbon emissions, we're told, the trend of global warming will condemn us all to an unprecedented hell on earth, ultimately dooming mankind. The solution? A cap-and-trade scheme that even its proponents admit would have a negligible impact on earth's temperatures. (It sure would cost a lot of money and impose burdensome regulations on businesses, though.)

So what's the common denominator here? It's that in each case, the proposed solution would do absolutely nothing to solve the stated problem.

If the goal really were to stimulate the economy, we'd see tax cuts and other incentives for businesses to undertake new projects and hire new employees. If our elected leaders really wanted to improve the quality of health care while reducing costs, they'd lift restrictions on selling insurance across jurisdictional lines and eliminate onerous mandates on coverage. And if they really wanted to confront the challenges posed by climate change (assuming such challenges even exist and are worth our time and concern), they'd propose something that might actually be expected to have some discernable impact on climate change. But none of the proposed solutions do any of these things.

So what are they really up to? To answer this question, one must identify the other thread that's common to the Obama administration's legislative Big Three: Under each plan, the government would increase its control over the American economy while restricting the freedom of individuals to make their own choices.

And that, of course, is the whole point. We're told that these are the necessary means, but once we understand that the stated ends won't be achieved by any of the proposed remedies, we realize those stated ends were never the goals to begin with. The means — growing government, restricting freedom, empowering leftist special-interest groups — are also the ends themselves.

Unlike Nick Marshall, none of us are likely ever to acquire telepathic powers. But fortunately, our politicians' actions have told us all we need to know about their true intentions.

Andy Matthews is vice president for communications at the Nevada Policy Research Institute.