Be it resolved

Be it resolved
January 1, 2012

Benjamin Domenech

Benjamin Domenech (bdomenech@heartland.org) is a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute. Domenech... (read full bio)

This resolution builds on the lessons from Europe this year, where we found out wealth redistribution on massive levels is sustainable, all the way until it isn't.

Consider the circumstances in Maine, where Gov. Paul LePage recently pointed out that his state has 453,000 welfare recipients, while 445,000 paid taxes. Medicaid now accounts for 21 percent of Maine's spending, up from 12.4 percent in 1998.

And Maine is not an outlier -- it is the rule.

As unemployment remains high and ObamaCare's massive expansion of the Medicaid system approaches, it is now apparent that millions of Americans will soon be shifted onto a taxpayer-funded, government-run American health system with outcomes that range from the barely acceptable to the plainly awful.

This system is not sustainable. But the political will to change it seems absent from leadership in Washington. It will take governors coming together to demand a shift to force Washington to stop treating Medicaid reform like the ugly stepsister and embrace one of the few areas where Democrat and Republican governors alike agree that more flexibility and freedom is mandatory.

By making these three resolutions, politicians will recognize that America cannot adopt a permanent entitlement structure for a new plateau of unemployed and underemployed citizens. And they will recognize that where freedom exists in the health care space, people are thriving. Governors with a mind toward innovation are rejecting top-down statism and mandates, taking small but important steps toward empowering consumers.

Just as welfare reform required state success to export to the national level, these small steps might, if protected from federal encroachment and social engineering, reverse our unsustainable course. It will take leadership rising from the citizenry and the states, leadership more principled and reliable than the power brokers of the day.

And if they commit to this task, America can ultimately attain the health care and entitlement system it deserves -- where permanent redistribution is banished, personal responsibility is renewed, and competition, transparency and innovation thrive.

So go ahead, Washington; look in the mirror. You can do it. And if you can't, well -- we promise we'll help you out.

[First published in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.]

Benjamin Domenech

Benjamin Domenech (bdomenech@heartland.org) is a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute. Domenech... (read full bio)