The Democrats’ False Dilemma

Over these past few weeks, I’ve heard Democrats and their supporters using this argument in support of their policies: “The status quo is unacceptable, therefore we must act and pass this legislation.” Consider this statement by President Barack Obama in his recent press conference (from the CBS transcript):

But unless we fix what’s broken in our current system, everyone’s health care will be in jeopardy. Unless we act, premiums will climb higher, benefits will erode further, and the rolls of the uninsured will swell to include millions more Americans. Unless we act, one out of every five dollars that we earn will be spent on health care within a decade. And the amount our government spends on Medicare and Medicaid will eventually grow larger than what our government spends on everything else today.

When it comes to health care, the status quo is unsustainable and unacceptable. So reform is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. And I hope that Congress will continue to make significant progress on this issue in the weeks ahead.

The Democrats are right in one aspect of this argument. Our country does face problems in health care, the economy, and energy policy. But the Democrats are offering us a false dilemma: Either we do what they say, or we fall into ruin. They’re framing the debate as the choice between their agenda or doing nothing at all.

Of course, even if the debate was between nothing and the Democrats’ policies, many times doing nothing would be better. That’s not what we should be debating. When we debate statist, corporatist, and interventionist policies — whether they come from the Democrats or the Republicans — we can’t let it be a defense of the status quo. We have to offer our own way (free market) and our own policies (Constitution) out of the messes that government itself has gotten us into.

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