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KNIGHT: Letting no crisis go to waste

Where others see a calamity, Obama sees golden opportunity

Chutzpah is defined in some dictionaries as "shameless audacity." It's not a big enough word to describe what Barack Obama, author of the best-seller "The Audacity of Hope," said after securing a GOP surrender in the fiscal showdown last week.

"We've got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis," President Obama said with a straight face.

In his nearly five years as president, Mr. Obama has governed almost solely by "crisis."

He has raised the national debt by $6 trillion over that time by lurching from one "crisis" to the next. He engineered massive bailouts, more borrowing, more dependency and spending billions on "green" projects whose beneficiaries funnel money back to Democratic campaign coffers. He unilaterally bombed Libya to end the Libyan crisis while doing nothing to forestall the real threat of Iran nearing the acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Citing the global warming "crisis," he almost secured Al Gore's massive "cap and trade" carbon-dioxide tax scheme in 2010, failing only because Democrats in fossil-fuel states such as West Virginia, Kentucky and Louisiana rebelled.

Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama's first chief of staff, set the administration's tone in 2008: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. ... It's an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before."

Proclaiming that America had a health care "crisis," Mr. Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid jammed Obamacare through Congress without a single Republican vote. In a crisis, consensus is a luxury.

In his amazing lecture to the nation following the Senate's 81-18 vote and the House's 285-144 vote to end the government shutdown, Mr. Obama used a tone geared toward a classroom of dimwitted children. For good measure, he threw down the gauntlet over immigration amnesty and a new farm bill.

Soon, we'll hear again about the immigration "crisis" as liberals work to create millions of new government dependents, i.e., reliable Democrat voters. We'll also hear about a food "crisis." The shocking reality is that a mere 50 million Americans — about a sixth of the population — are now on food stamps, up from 26 million in 2007.

We're also in an "obesity" crisis, according to Michelle Obama. I can't decide whether to skip a meal or run up the max on a government Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) debit card. What's the most patriotic thing to do?

Speaking of SNAP cards, did you hear about the software glitch that allowed card users to turn Wal-Mart stores into Supermarket Sweep? If there's no real limit on what Mr. Obama can borrow until Feb. 7, think of him careering down an aisle with the world's largest shopping cart, racking up more debt.

The deal brokered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Mr. Reid and House Speaker John A. Boehner funds the government through Jan. 15 and raises the debt limit through Feb. 7. The Obamacare jalopy, whose scary launch temporarily stiffened the GOP backbone with Tea Party steel, didn't even sustain a dent.

A silver lining is that Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas helped educate the nation as to what's at stake. His marathon floor speech shined a light on how Obamacare will destroy freedom. To Democrats' dismay, the dreaded sequestration cuts are still in effect.

As more Americans suffer under Obamacare, they just might recall that it was Republican conservatives who tried to spare them. This is why the media, Democrats and their Republican in Name Only allies have abandoned civility. They are assailing Tea Party conservatives using terms normally reserved for communists and gangsters.

In fact, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, took to the House floor to portray House conservatives as the heavies in "a 1970s gangster film" who hold the nation "hostage" in a scheme "subversive to democratic government." Mr. Reid denounced "Tea Party anarchists," while Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, called Tea Party House members an "extremist" faction that "must resort to absurd hostage tactics." Wasn't it Mr. Obama who refused to negotiate?

Here's just a bit more of Mr. Obama's unctuous lecture: "Let's work together to make government work better, instead of treating it like an enemy or purposely making it work worse. That's not what the Founders of this nation envisioned when they gave us the gift of self-government."

For perspective on how the Founders viewed government, here's Founding Father Tom Paine, whose works were collected in a remarkable book by the now-deceased John Armor, "These Are the Times that Try Men's Souls":

"Society in every state is a blessing. But government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one ... our calamity is heightened since we furnish the means by which we suffer!"

Obamacare requires working Americans to fund a system that puts them at the mercy of government in ways the Founders could not have envisioned.

So far, Congress has failed to use the power of the purse to derail this threat. It is incumbent on freedom-loving Americans to identify which lawmakers tried to protect them — and to send them reinforcements next November.

Robert Knight is senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a columnist for The Washington Times.

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