Geraghty searches for the logical conclusion of liberal governance

Jim Geraghty‘s latest column at National Review Online extrapolates from existing evidence to suggest a theory about the likely outcome for a society governed solely by “progressive” principles.

So what do progressives really want? If, as I suspect, the currency of progressivism isn’t policies or results, but emotions, what does that approach build? What kind of a country do you get when political leaders are driven by a desire to feel that they are more enlightened, noble, tolerant, wise, sensitive, conscious, and smart than most other people?

The evidence before us suggests progressives’ ideal society would be one where they enjoy great power to regulate the lives of others and impose restrictions and limitations they themselves would never accept in their own lives. Very few people object to an aristocracy with special rights and privileges as long as they’re in it.

For example, a key provision of Obamacare is a tax on “Cadillac health-care plans” — the architects of the legislation having concluded that part of the problem with America’s health-care system is that some employers are just too generous with their employees’ health insurance. Plans worth more than $10,200 for individuals or $27,500 for families face a 40 percent excise tax starting in 2018.

Members of Congress — at least the ones not covered by their spouse’s plans, as quite a few of them are — purchase their insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which offers about 300 different plans. On average, the government pays 72 percent of the premiums for its workers, according to FactCheck.org — a setup that has been characterized as, if not quite a “Cadillac” plan, then “the best Buick on the block.” The New York Times noted that, even though they are now required to purchase insurance through an exchange, lawmakers have “a larger menu of ‘gold plan’ insurance choices than most of their constituents have back home” and have an easier time navigating the exchange, with special “concierge” services provided by insurers. And the Times noted that members of Congress can receive care from the attending physician to Congress, conveniently located in the U.S. Capitol, for an annual fee of $576.

Thus, lawmakers who could rest assured they would see little change to their own plans enacted massive, complicated, headache-inducing changes to the nation’s system of health-insurance plans.

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