Legislative grandiosity predates the Obama presidency. But it has achieved its apotheosis in the past four years. Barack Obama’s politics aren’t just large. They’re colossal. His laws are so big there are parts of them no one has ever seen.
Here’s a Washington Post summary this week of a story on the Affordable Care Act: “Signing up an estimated 30 million uninsured Americans for coverage under the health-care law is shaping up to be, if not a bureaucratic nightmare, at the very least a daunting task.” And we’re only in the foothills of Mount ObamaCare.
At the July 2010 signing ceremony for the Dodd-Frank law’s 2,300 pages, Mr. Obama announced: “It provides certainty to everybody, from bankers to farmers to business owners to consumers.” That’s right, universal certainty. Still, the massive law’s iconic centerpiece, the Volcker Rule, doesn’t exist. And what’s the one word seen nonstop after Dodd-Frank in The Wall Street Journal? Un-certainty.
Conservatives predictably object to all this, but one has to ask: How did liberals, especially on the left and without exception, become such mute footmen for Barack Obama’s faceless conglomerate politics?
Years back, a popular notion among liberal thinkers was something called “imperial overstretch.” This was the idea that America’s far-flung foreign-policy commitments could bankrupt the country. Mr. Obama believes this, and before Chuck Hagel started talking the other day, he was supposed to explain it. In his State of the Union speech next Tuesday, Mr. Obama will say again that Washington, after Iraq and Afghanistan, needs to “invest” at home. But isn’t the federalization of pretty much everything in a diverse country like the U.S. just another exercise in imperial overstretch?