Ever see someone driven by booze, drugs, gambling or some other obsession and destroying family and friends as a result? Ever want to see someone close to that person grab him by the collar, slap him and say “Wake up! Pull your head out of your butt and look at what you’re doing! Destroying yourself is one thing. But I’m not gonna let you destroy the rest of us. Get the outta here and clean up your act!”
In his Republican Party convention speech, that’s what New Jersey Governor Chris Christie essentially did to the tax-and-spendaholic Obama administration. He’s not going to let them destroy the country. But to turn the country around, Christie also explained how Republicans must keep voters from being seduced into becoming willing enablers in their own destruction.
Christie explained that his Sicilian mother told him it is better to be respected than to be loved because “love without respect was always fleeting, but . . . respect could grow into real, lasting love.”
When he became governor, Christie didn’t seek to be loved by voters by telling them that the tax-and-spending binge of his Democratic opponents could continue. But Christie explained that his critics said “it was impossible to cut taxes in a state where taxes were raised 115 times in eight years. That it was impossible to balance a budget at the same time, with an $11 billion deficit. Three years later, we have three balanced budgets with lower taxes.”
Christie’s reality orientation is most welcomed as he attempts to puncture the Obama administration's delusion that they can continue their tax-and-spending binge while avoiding American bankruptcy or impoverishing future generations.
However, the rhetoric of Christie and other Republicans about “saving Medicare” itself needs more reality focus. It is right to keep some system functioning for those already in it or soon to be there. Those seniors were forced to pay into the system for decades. They've build their life plans around it. And the creation of Medicare nearly five decades ago destroyed the private health insurance market for retirees which might have offered them an alternative.
But while some Republican reform plans offer steps in the right direction, in the long run the goal should be to get the government out of the healthcare business entirely.
Christie explained that the Obama administration believes “seniors will always put themselves ahead of their grandchildren. So they prey on their vulnerabilities and scare them with misinformation for the cynical purpose of winning the next election. Their plan: whistle a happy tune while driving us off the fiscal cliff, as long as they are behind the wheel of power.”
Christie responded that seniors want these programs “secured for their grandchildren. Seniors are not selfish.” But “selfish” isn’t the right word. What Christie and the Republicans should hope is that seniors are not stupid.
They should hope that seniors understand that Medicare cannot continue on its current path without going over that fiscal cliff. But they themselves need to understand that for the grandchildren of those seniors to be both secure in their retirement and to be autonomous in the whole lives, Medicare and other government entitlement programs should be replaced by free market alternatives that Republicans tend to applaud in every other sector of the economy.
Hudgins is director for advocacy at The Atlas Society
For further reading:
David Kelley, " Is Health Care a Right? "
Edward Hudgins is research director at the Heartland Institute and former director of advocacy and senior scholar at The Atlas Society.