The election was a clear choice, and the people have spoken. The people want free birth control, free abortion, and free just-about-everything from birth to death. They want it paid for by rich people. What they will get is slow death by regulation. It’s inevitable. Legislation is in place to control banking, energy, health care, education, and a myriad of the details of life. The script for the next four years is bureaucracy producing a rising tide of regulations to consolidate control over peoples lives. Congress will provide sideshow distractions, but the main event will be the growth of bureaucratic power.
The Left thinks the reason they won is the demographics of age, race, and gender. That’s not it. Conservatives would be happy to have a government run entirely by, say, Black women who believed in person responsibility and free enterprise. The shift is to people who are either happy having the government run their lives or are happy to be in control running other people’s lives. The Left is worried about the freedoms for drugs and sex, but control of all else. Their vision is as if North Korea would be an ideal society if only they had gay marriage and marijuana.
President Obama will become a centrist about the same time that the wolves in Yellowstone decide to go vegan. Leftist ideologues and wolves do not act contrary to their natures. The goal of modern socialism is not to run industries directly, because that makes failure embarrassingly obvious. The new method is to control through regulation. That means government bureaucrats write rules, and the job citizens is to obey them. Dodd-Frank enables the bureaucracy to control banking. The Environmental Protection Agency controls energy and, indirectly, indirectly transportation. Obamacare controls health care. The tax code provides financial incentives for investments preferred by government. A patchwork of laws completes the ensemble; the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that public swimming pools have elevators. Nothing is too small to be overlooked.
Congress has granted rule-making power to the bureaucracy. In President Obama’s first term only a little of that power was realized, partly because writing so many rules takes time, and partly out of fear of backlash by Congress and the voters. Bureaucrats wrote 14,000 pages of new tax regulations to implement the twenty-three taxes included in Obamacare, but the rules remain to written that determine exactly what a health insurance policy must do. The EPA obtained through the courts the power to regulate carbon dioxide, but they refrained from imposing tax penalties on carbon for fear of backlash. The second term will see rules flow in a torrent.
Congress still controls spending authority, but that’s not much of a limitation. When Congress is at a stalemate, they approve a continuing resolution that mirrors the previous year’s budget – but with an increase currently around 7% . The Democrats will get new taxes on the “rich” as a consequence of the election. Those taxes will provide tiny increases in revenue, a claimed $85 billion or so against the $1100 billion deficit, but only for a year or two until money moves to untaxed loopholes. Democrats will promise spending cuts in return, but those will be promises against future increases in spending, and they will never happen.
Some Republicans have claimed that in won’t be possible to blame George Bush for a continuing lackluster economy. They are wrong. Even though Obama is not up for re-election, the campaign will never end, and unsolved problems will always be someone else’s fault. At what point did failure to cure the Depression become FDR’s fault? Never. If there is one Republican left in Congress, failed policies will be the fault of Republicans. If Republicans are entirely exterminated, the fault will be with greedy capitalists taking money overseas or with states resisting federal control or with a dozen other forces of evil against whom the President and his Party endlessly struggle. We’ll hear about it weekly. Any opposition to any government control will be denounced as racist or sexist.
Slow death comes from the heavy burden of compliance costs. How does a small business cope with hundreds of thousands of pages of rules? They already hire accountants and lawyers to cope with tax rules, and they will need additional specialists in rule compliance to cope with health care, energy, and a host of other new regulations. Large organizations are better able to cope with heavy regulation, so small business will be pushed out. In health care, physicians in private practice will disappear because only a large organization can mount the staff needed to deal with the government bureaucracy. Dodd-Frank is having a serious effect on small business, because the imposed standards for business loans cannot be met by small business. Look for independent shops and services to be absorbed into chains.
Power concentrated in government requires a privileged elite to support its authority. Democrats now have that in lawyers, academia, entertainment, news media, and unions. Those sectors will grow and prosper. Replacing small business with large business provides new ground for union power. High tech is also part of the power elite. High profit companies like Apple pay lower taxes that traditional industries. General Electric is famous for paying no taxes at all. The elites will prosper.
The Constitution proses annoying obstacles to government control. At this point Constitutional protections on property rights are essentially gone, with the Obamacare decision being the ultimate concession. We saw the Constitutional problem arise with the need to have Presidential appointments confirmed despite Senate actions designed to end the practice of recess appointments, and with President Obama granting amnesty to “Dream Act” immigrants. In both cases, the President ignored the legalities and did as he wished. The president has the entire Justice Department, funded by taxpayers, to draw out the cases in court. The worse that can happen is that after years of litigation, the President loses. If that happens, he can make a minor modification to claim to please the courts, or he can claim authority under a different piece of legislation or provision of the Constitution to start over.
Such extra-legal excursions will be relatively limited, because even Democrats in Congress worry about ceding too much power to the executive branch. The countervailing force is the need felt by Democrats to “get things done.” Understand that concept, nothing is done unless government takes and exercises more control.
The big news for the next four years will not be on the evening news. Government will expand to control every aspect of your life short drugs and sex, the privileged elite of the new socialism will expand it’s scope and power, and there will be tests of the Constitution aimed at increasing the power of the executive.