A Time for New Ideas: an Open letter for Rep. Murphy, 20th NY

“Read Mr. Obama’s speech last week at MIT on climate change: “The folks who pretend that this is not an issue, they are being marginalized.” This, ironically, sounds a lot like the 2007 antiHillary “Big Brother” TV commercial. Its message was that Hillary represented something big and ominously coercive. Boot up that ad now and put Obama’s face where Hillary’s is.The larger point here isn’t necessarily partisan. It’s a description of the way people live their lives in a 21st century world, and how disconnected politics has become from that world.

If we were really living in the world of leading-edge politics that many people thought they were getting with Barack Obama, he would have proposed an iPhone for health care-a flexible system for which all sorts of users could create or choose health-care apps that suited their needs. Over time, with trial and error, a better system would emerge.

No chance of that. Our outdated political software can’t recognize trial and error. What ObamaCare is doing with health care-the “public option”-may be fine with the activist left, but I suspect it’s starting to strike many younger Americans as at odds with their lives, as not somewhere they want to go. Wait until EPA’s ghost busters start enforcing cap-and-trade.

People thought something small, agile and smart was coming to government, but so far it’s turning out to be just big-box politics.

None of this is to suggest the Republicans are any better. They do, however, have a better chance of breaking out of the ancient political castle. So long as the Democratic Party is the party of the Old Hat People, dependent on public-sector unions with Orwellian names like the Service Employees International Union, it will remain yoked to a pre-iPhone political model that will increasingly strike average everyday American voters as weird and alien to their world.”  Daniel Henninger, Obama and the Old Hat People, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 29, 2009 (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703574604574499693726128138.html).

The simple (and sad) fact is that Liberals, and the Democratic Party in general, have not had a new, or even workable idea, since the Johnson Administration.

We propose a bloated, bureaucratic health care “public option” and talk about government exchanges (like the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program [FEHBP”], about which you have talked with some dismay) offering “choice,” ignoring the fact that the chief source of quality, lower cost and expanded access is the entrepreneurial spirit and consumer demand.  Indeed, why not “an iPhone for health care-a flexible system for which all sorts of users could create or choose health-care apps that suited their needs?”

We tax people to death, even past their death, and wonder why the savings rate is horrible and there is a great deal of debt and why little wealth created.  We bail out failed companies that are “too big to fail,” borrow huge sums from China and wonder why entrepreneurs don’t save us.

Rep.  Murphy, you were a small businessman.  You created wealth and saw the power of free markets.

You have to know what could be done if we unleash the power of innovation and risk taking, if we cut away red tape and let people keep their money.  You have to understand, in a way a career politician can’t, that every dollar the government takes in taxes is a dollar that can’t be used by an entrepreneur to start a business; by a small business owner to hire someone; or by a worker to buy a Christmas Present for a beloved spouse or child.

Doug Hoffman is going to win tomorrow, likely by a large margin, a sign that New York (or at least large swaths of it) is a far less Blue State than many people think.  Frankly, this creates a risk for your re-election.  It also creates an opportunity to be the voice of entrepreneurial capitalism in the Democratic caucus.  It gives you an incentive to reach out to people on the Republican side, like Rep. Paul Ryan of the 1st Wisconsin, who have good, innovative, workable ideas on health care reform that could lead us to market-based reform.

The sage Hillel said, “If I am not for myself, who will be? And when I am for myself, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?”  The time is now.  The task is great.  The risk is vast.  But the deed is great and critical. As Camus asked the Dominicans, “And if you don’t help us, who else in the world can help us do this?”