“We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”
This is the promise Barack Obama made on Oct. 30, 2008, as the country was counting down to the presidential election.
This week he pressed forward on three fronts, even as preparations to implement Obamacare — putting one-sixth of the economy on the path to government domination — slowly grind away. The country will be worse off if he succeeds.
On Tuesday, the President announced a major push on climate change regulation in a long speech at Georgetown University. Having seen his cap-and-trade proposal rebuffed by a Senate controlled — with filibuster-proof margins — by his own party, the President imposed climate regulations by executive fiat, including cap-and-trade for cars (cost: $3,000 per vehicle). Obama pushes these policies even though unilateral U.S. action will do next to nothing for the environment.
The President also said he would direct the EPA to make it exceedingly difficult to build and operate new and existing power plants that use coal, America’s most plentiful fuel. Heritage projects a phasing out of coal will destroy 500,000 jobs, lower family incomes by $1,000, and increase natural gas prices by 42%. That last part is important because it could strangle an emerging manufacturing renaissance. Expensive energy makes everything else cost more, too.
Higher prices and fewer jobs are costs of fundamental transformation.
On Wednesday, the President then celebrated a Supreme Court decision that struck down a part of the Defense of Marriage Act. Gay activist Andrew Sullivan understood the significance of the moment as he gloated, “this is a transformational day.” It was the President who, having come into office in 2008 professing to be against same-sex marriage, then “evolved” in his thinking and ordered his Attorney General not to support the Defense of Marriage Act.”
The other side wants more government (“one thing we all belong to”) to lead to greater equality of outcomes. Conservatives know that family and voluntary associations are the best places to provide assistance. Redefining marriage would further distance marriage from the needs of children and weaken the norms through which marriage benefits society.
Thankfully, conservatives can keep fighting the battle at the state level to tell the truth about marriage. We know that every child deserves a mother and a father and that marriage is the best anti-poverty program and limitation on the welfare state yet devised.
Redefining marriage and weakening the family, paving the way for bigger government, are also costs of fundamental transformation.
Then on Thursday, the President pushed a comprehensive immigration bill through the Senate that would grant amnesty to some 11 million illegal immigrants, putting them on a path to government benefits that would cost taxpayers trillions of dollars over their lifetimes. The so-called Gang of Eight bill would massively expand the welfare state while failing to control unlawful immigration. Proponents of the bill have even stooped to saying voting in favor of the bill will “stop de-facto amnesty” — classic doublespeak.
Trillions more in government spending to pretend to solve a problem is another cost of fundamental transformation.
Dan Pfeiffer, senior adviser to Obama, tweeted:
A yr ago this week wouldn’t have seemed possible. Major progress on Immigration, Same Sex Marriage, and Climate change. Promises into Action
— Dan Pfeiffer (@pfeiffer44) June 28, 2013
Some advocate surrender or compromise on some or all these fronts. Their arguments amount only to a delay in living in a completely different country. Instead, conservatives must preserve what’s best about America while working to improve it and paint our vision in bold colors.
One can scarcely conceive of a better time to regroup as conservatives than around our Independence Day when we celebrate the fruits of the labors of those who “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence mutually pledge[d] to each other [their] Lives, [their] Fortune and [their] sacred Honor.”
Derrick Morgan leads one of the nation’s most respected teams of public policy researchers and analysts as vice president for domestic and economic policy at The Heritage Foundation. Following him on Twitter: @ddmorganindc