Ambrose: N.Y. Times economic editorials muddled

It is best not to dwell too long on New York Times editorials, for then a great fog can enter the mind, causing you to bump intowalls or trip over large objects, falling and banging your head. Great pain can ensue.

But for insight into the peculiar workings of the leftist intellect, the occasional contemplation of a line or two or three of “Gray Lady” musings can be useful, as in a recent piece headlined, “As the Economy Turns Down.”

By way of prompting further intervention in the mortgage market, the Times weeps that it has become almost impossible to stimulate the economy more through tax cuts. For the last six years, it says, we have had “excessive” and “misdirected” tax reductions. “And,” we are told, “the social safety net is frayed. President Bush is even now threatening to veto expanded health insurance for children.”

Forget for the moment that those supposedly unwise cuts helped create some 8 million new jobs despite dramatically rising oil prices and other afflictions. Instead, focus on the implication that they somehow inhibited spending on crucial programs.

Perhaps the Times did not notice, but along the way Congress broke all kinds of spending records during those six years, at one point rushing past the previous total for poverty programs. Or maybe the Times did notice. For the editorial is not advocating some mere patching up of a “frayed” array of social service programs.

It wants expansion, which is to say, something like what we find in Europe, a ruinous, future-diminishing system known as the welfare state. Specifically, it would address this supposed fraying through a fiscally reckless, essentially uncontrolled, come-one-and-all, business-bashing, extravagant enlargement of the Children’s Health and Medicare Protection Act.

As a Heritage Foundation analyst and others have pointed out, the House version of legislation sent to a House-Senate conference would do far more than renew a state-federal program meant to serve the needy.

It would virtually erase eligibility checks while extending the program to families with incomes 400 percent higher than the poverty level, people who already have and can easily afford private insurance.

It would foster reliance on handouts while damaging the private insurance industry and giving incentives to states to round up all possible applicants and usher them into this socialist corral. The states might think themselves beneficiaries of unbelievable largess, but a day of reckoning would come as the federal government did less and less, the states more and more and costs headed into the stratosphere.

Indulging the vanity that still more central planning is preferable to the genius of a free market from which all wealth flows, the Times fails to get it that even Europe is moving slowly away from the Big Government allure that has caused it to falter and fumble and face a fate that could not only make the rich poorer, but the poor poorer.

And it would distribute more tax money from everyone to those who have no need for it at the expense of those who have the most need for it. Instructive, yes?

Examiner columnist Jay Ambrose is a former editor of two daily newspapers. He may be reached at SpeaktoJay@aol.com

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