Presumptive GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, commented last week at a campaign event: “With Obamacare fully installed, government will come to control half the economy, and we will have effectively ceased to be a free-enterprise society.”
The LA Times’ Doyle McManus asked the Romney campaign to explain the candidate’s comment and was told:
In 2010, government expenditures for all purposes — federal, state and local, including Social Security benefits — amounted to about 38% of the U.S. economy.
By 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services project that government spending on healthcare, currently about 8% of GDP, will grow to about 10% — partly because of Obamacare’s coverage for some of the uninsured but also thanks to baby boomers signing up for Medicare.
So that’s an increase of 2%. Add it to 38%, and you’ve got a projection that by 2020, government spending will come to about 40% of the economy.
At this point, the Romney campaign indulges in what (depending on your taste) you might call a magic trick, a redefinition or just a subterfuge: It adds in all projected private spending on healthcare in 2020 — private health insurance, physician and hospital bills — to declare another 10% of the economy government-controlled.
“If we count that as under federal control, we get to 50%,” a Romney aide emailed me.
In the Introduction of my book Never Allow A Crisis To Go To Waste, I noted that the favorite GOP argument for why Barack Obama was a socialist is that he spent a lot of money. Both former Speaker Newt Gingrich and current Senator Jim DeMint advanced this argument at one time or another and Mitt Romney appears to be adopting it.
Unfortunately, the argument has no merit. While socialist governments are invariably large, not all large governments are socialist.
Socialism is the government directing the economy to redistribute wealth from those who create it to those the government prefers.
Obamacare itself is a faithful application of German Zwangswirthsaft socialism where the government leaves business in nominal private ownership, but abuses the government’s regulatory, taxing and spending power to achieve the socialist goals of affirmatively directing health insurance to redistribute wealth.
Obamacare’s socialist inefficiencies are likely to cost health insurance consumers a great deal more money than the program will cost taxpayers.
If GOP candidates are going to convince the citizenry that Mr. Obama is a socialist advancing socialist programs, the Republicans themselves need to understand the nuts and bolts of the ideology.