- - Wednesday, October 30, 2013

In 1984, Ronald Reagan reminded the country why it should give him a second term in office. His campaign ran an ad with the simple message: “It’s morning in America again.” The president, so criticized by the left for embracing the good old days of America’s heritage, brought the country a period of peace, prosperity, stability and dignity that Americans can only dream about today. In short, the ad was right on.

Things have changed. If an ad agency had to sum up the mood of the country, and be honest about it, it might come up with this pitch: “It’s Halloween in America today.” Washington has made this one of the scariest times in history, especially for younger generations of Americans.

The government has been operating without a budget for years, spending money it does not have. It is leaving that debt to future generations — in other words, to today’s children. The debt is twice what it was before President Obama was elected, and more than the entire economy. There is no limit. Because the president does not have the courage to reform the country’s entitlements, they are sucking all of the money out of the kids’ trust funds. Seniors will take hundreds of thousands more out than they put in, so children born today will be left with nothing. Even worse, they will have to put in hundreds of thousands more that they will ever see back.

If that isn’t scary enough, the administration’s signature achievement — Obamacare — is yet another program to take wealth away from the young. When it was enacted, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously said that Congress had to pass the bill so that the people could find out what was in it. She must have thought she was speaking to her subjects in Winkie Country. Nearly four years later, White House happy talk about it sounds almost manic. Consumer Reports, which is not known for its sense of humor, macabre or otherwise, says that people should just stay away from the Obamacare website. Tech-savvy millennials think it is freaky. They wonder how a country that can produce things as cool as Google and Amazon could produce such a monster.


That may not the worst thing about it. The few who are actually able to access the website experience sticker fright. Many are being offered insurance that is at least 50 percent more expensive for coverage that is inferior to what they had. Having been told that they could keep their coverage when Obamacare was first proposed, they have since learned that they cannot. Bureaucrats adopted regulations that prevent it. If it sounds familiar this time of year, there is a reason. It’s called trick or treat, but with a twist: promise a treat, then deliver a trick.

Obamacare is America’s worst nightmare. Americans will be forced — with the specter of the Internal Revenue Service in the shadows — to use a website that doesn’t work, to pay more for health insurance that offers less, to accept fewer hours and lower wages from employers trying to avoid new mandates, to apply for subsidies (assuming they are legal) they never before needed, to pay new taxes, to deal with a new health care bureaucracy, and to spend countless hours working on and worrying about those things. They will also worry about the privacy of personal information held by yet another ominous agency in their Orwellian government.

Republicans tried to stop it, but Mr. Obama marshalled his forces and put it all on the line. This means his administration must do something it cannot do, and that is to actually deliver. They just don’t seem to even know, or care, what they are doing. It is a little like asking a bunch of fifth-graders to design and build an aircraft carrier. Even if they can get it to work — and that’s a big if — no one knows where it’s going. To make matters worse, it’s a bad design. It is based on the Massachusetts plan, the state with the highest health care costs and health insurance premiums in the nation. Even kids know insanity means expecting different results when you do the same thing over and over again.

Americans know what freedom is. When it comes to the world of technology, they know what that means. Freedom does not mean having to buy health care on a dysfunctional government website that government employees themselves do not need to use. Freedom does not mean having to pay for things that politicians don’t. Freedom does not mean being told by their representatives that they can find out about bad laws after they are passed. Freedom does not mean being lectured by a president who doesn’t know what his own government is doing to people. Freedom does not mean that the thing they care most deeply about, the economy, is ignored. Household incomes are still stagnating at recession levels. Tax reform is dead. Budget reform is dead. Like Frankenstein, the newest entitlement, Obamacare, lives.

Kids will eventually recognize what is happening. Now, every day is Halloween, but the fear is real. Today’s children, who have enjoyed playing trick or treat, are now the victims. The warlocks and wizards in Washington are preying on them, spying on them, robbing them of their future and destroying their hope. They are conjuring a witches’ brew of nightmares for future generations of Americans. As Shakespeare put it: “Double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn, and caldron bubble.” Happy Halloween.

Warren L. Dean Jr. is an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center.