If it’s Comprehensive, Throw it Out

by Sal on February 18, 2010

in Health Care,Politics

Victor Davis Hansen has written a piece entitled Beware of ‘Comprehensive’ Anything, in which he details how Comprehensive legislation rarely becomes law, and any that does is usually disastrous.  Just take a look at the ‘Comprehensive’ bills or strategies we’ve had in the past few years:

  • Comprehensive health care reform
  • Comprehensive climate change reform (cap-and-trade)
  • Comprehensive reset of foreign policy
  • Comprehensive immigration reform
  • Comprehensive social security reform

As much as I would have liked to see the last item enacted, Hansen has a point.  Americans are resistant to sweeping change, and it has proven to be the death of both the Obama and Bush administrations.  We Conservatives would be wise to heed Hansen’s warning once we retake power.  Small, incremental change is better than large sweeping change.  Over the course of 8-12 years, large amounts of incremental changes can add up to sweeping change.

The one exception to Hansen’s analysis in my memory is Welfare reform.  That plan was sweeping in it’s scope, but had such widespread popular support that was able to be passed.  I can’t think of such an issue today that galvanizes the vast majority of the American people that would allow such a reform, so it’s best to stick to small changes.

Take social security reform: most of us Conservatives feel that private accounts would be far preferable to the current system.  Yet the issue was soundly defeated in 2005, and the American public doesn’t have the appetite for that change because of the lies spread by the state-run media that have permeated the public consciousness.  Americans need to get used to the idea of public accounts, so why doesn’t the next Republican congress pass private accounts as an addition to social security, not as a replacement of a percentage.  Then, as they prove popular, the administration could slowly allow people to take a portion of their payroll tax and put it into the private accounts.  Incremental, not so sweeping, and doesn’t change the status quo, but it gets people used to the idea.

Liberalism has been successful when it has been incremental.  The left was in the process of moving us slowly towards universal government-run health care with the SCHIP program among others, which few Americans objected to outside of the establishment and the blogosphere.  When it has tried to overreach, however, as it has with ObamaCare, it has failed miserably.  Conservatives should learn that lesson, and push far more incrementally over time.

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