Whether due to arrogance or stupidity -- or a combination of both operating simultaneously in the same haughty and mind-numbing individual (Nancy Pelosi comes to mind as the perfect archetype) -- it's rare for politicians to admit failure and fix what they've messed up.
One of those rare occurrences of self-correction happened on July 2 when the Obama administration announced it had decided to delay the scheduled implementation of Obamacare's employer mandate for a year, until 2015.
The mandate requires all firms with 50 or more employees -- regardless of the company's profitability or ability to pay -- to provide health coverage or pay steep fines.
It doesn't take a Ph.D in economics to see how this mandate delivers a clear disincentive for job creation among firms with fewer than 50 employees -- exactly the wrong prescription for recovery in an economy with doggedly high levels of unemployment and low levels of economic growth.
Nevertheless, Nancy Pelosi, displaying not even a smidgen of political smarts or common sense, declared at the 2010 Legislative Conference for the National Association of Counties that good things were coming our way, even if most of the population was too dumb to see it, once the feds started calling the shots in the nation's health system, one-sixth of the U.S. economy.
Just trust that the Obama-Pelosi-Reid supercilious crew knew what they were doing and join them in the feverish push for a fast-track enactment of Obamacare, Pelosi told the delegates, even if no politician had read the bill's thousands of pages.
"We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it," she explained, "away from the fog of controversy."
Still in a fog last month and seemingly unaware that the White House was ready to announce a roll back of Obamacare's employer mandate, Pelosi declared that Americans should celebrate Independence Day this year by also celebrating their new-found "health independence," courtesy of Obamacare.
The federal takeover of health care "captures the spirit of our Founders, the spirit they wrote in the Declaration of Independence — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," Pelosi proclaimed.
Obamacare might not be delivering on the key goals of "bending down the cost curve," allowing people to "keep their own doctor," or helping businesses to control costs and create jobs, but a pumped up Pelosi for July 4 gleefully pronounced that the new health law, new mandates, and new fines on noncompliant employees and employers gives Americans "the liberty to pursue a person's happiness."
Similarly in May, Pelosi joined the craziness on MSNBC and explained how Obamacare "honors the vows of our Founders" by creating more liberty for people to jump out of boring jobs and become essayists, camerapersons, and small-business owners.
"If you want to be a cameraman, a writer, if you want to be self-employed, start a business, change jobs, whatever you want to do, you can do that," she said, because of Obamacare.
Her pie-in-the-sky analysis painted a picture that overlooked the employees who had already been cut from full-time to part-time, or not hired at all, as companies tried to keep below the 50-employee mandate level.
And Pelosi's view of the Founders? She might want to do a bit of brushing up.
"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined," explained James Madison.
Or from Thomas Paine: "Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one."
Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics and the B. Kenneth Simon professor of free enterprise at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.
R. R. Reiland
Pittsburgh, Pa. 15236