Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy spoke to the
National Press Club on Wednesday and
articulated a clear message for Democrats: Give the people more goodies and they’ll return our party to power.
He pooh-poohed the idea that the Democratic Party must move to the political center to win future elections. Billed as a major address on the future of the party, it was little more than a rehash of Democrats’ usual tactic of buying votes with federal programs. He encouraged fellow Democrats to return to the party’s basic principles, saying “We cannot move our party or our nation forward under pale colors or timid voices.”
Although we agree with the senator, often referred to as one of the party’s old lions, that the nation doesn’t need two Republican parties, that’s about all we have in common with Kennedy. His speech was a laundry list of giveaways the Democrats must provide to “move … our nation forward.”
Our definition of “forward” is to ensure individual freedom so Americans can pursue their own goals, in their own way, with their own money, while respecting the rights of others. Kennedy’s definition would place more Americans under an umbrella of protection provided by the Democratic Party.
One of Kennedy’s first goals is to expand Medicare to cover more Americans, eventually all of us, according to his speech. His plan would begin by providing “good health care to every young child.” Next, he would lower the eligible age for Medicare from 65 to 55.
He proposes to pay for this with a combination of payroll taxes, other federal revenue and savings brought about by technological advances such as computerizing medical records. That can all be read as less money in Americans’ pockets and the increased possibility the government would have more access to everyone’s medical profiles — in short, more government intrusion into the lives of everyday people.
While Kennedy is keeping everyone dependent on Washington for health care, he’d also like to provide everyone a college education. He favors contracts between students and the federal government that, contingent on high school graduation and acceptance at college, would “guarantee you the cost of earning a degree.”
That makes for a good sound bite, but an aide later added that the guarantee would apply to costs remaining after figuring in scholarships, grants, work-study loans and parent-student contributions. Gee, after all those avenues are exhausted, that doesn’t leave much left to pay. We’d wager that as government contributions rise, the amount of those qualifiers will decline or disappear.