In “Why Obamacare Is Sinking,” Charles Krauthammer argues that President Obama’s reliance on rhetoric is finally beginning to fail because “you can’t fake it in legislation.”
Only if the true impacts were made clear would legislation somehow force reality. That day vanished long ago when the courts authorized Congress to delegate open-ended regulatory powers to some executive branch agency. Today, regulatory laws are long on rhetoric (living wage, anti-discrimination, clean air bills) and vague. The realities of the complex and costly tradeoffs are realized only after the bill becomes law. As America has come to rely more on regulation, the visibility of honest law-making has faded. “Honest” intervention may have been wrong and/or stupid but it did pass the transparency test; today’s regulatory legislation does not.
To see this simply, read the Boxer/Kerry article on the clean energy bill. The legislation promises to drastically restrict the use of carbon based energy and yet, create opportunity rather than economic disaster. This bill would create jobs by raising production costs and lower energy bills by further restricting energy supply. And, as Krauthammer suggests, they may yet promise to eliminate evil from the human heart (or, at least, eco-offenses against Gaia by Americans). Krauthammer is wrong- you can fake it in legislation.