The Meaning of Massachusetts (and Moving Forward)

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 12 hours, you probably already know that Republican Scott Brown has won the Massachusetts special election and will take the Senate seat formerly held by liberal icon Ted Kennedy. This is most definitely good news for those of us who wish to stop or at least slow down the Obama Administration’s radical domestic agenda, particularly health care reform. That’s because of the political message inherent in the stunning defeat in a very blue state as well as the fact that Brown will provide the 41st vote, thus making it difficult for the Senate to pass legislation along party lines.

This is all extremely important and, if things continue in this way we may see further gains made by Republicans and fiscal conservatives nationwide. But what does it mean for Obama and his health care reform and cap and trade proposals? Simply put, I think it kills cap and trade because there is no way to put enough lipstick on that pig to make it politically attractive, but I think Obama, if he wises up, might have a chance to do something on health care. The key is “if he wises up” and this goes for the rest of his administration because he may very well be dealing with a Republican House of Representatives this time next year.

What path might Obama take forward on health care? Well, first and foremost he should look carefully at the ideas laid out by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. Another place to go would be the Cato Institute and this article on how the free market can help cure what ails health care.

Basically, rather than handing our entire health care system over to the insurance industry as the Senate bill would have done (that’s according to liberal columnist/economist Paul Krugman), Obama needs to work to restore decisions and responsibility to individuals through a variety of vouchers and the restoration of other incentives that give individuals a greater incentive to control health care costs. If Obama follows some kind of Clintonian “third way,” he may survive this mess, but if he continues down the current path, both he and America will be worse off for it.

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