Clunkers in charge of health care?

By Doug Powers

There’s an old Chinese proverb that says, “Never let a man who chops down apple trees to get to the fruit perform your vasectomy.”

Well, maybe that’s not an actual Chinese proverb, but it’s certainly advice to keep in mind for anybody who’s watching the government’s handling of “Cash for Clunkers” while it’s also attempting to seize complete control of health care.

Cash for Clunkers – a program that our genius financial managers in Washington had skillfully budgeted to run, appropriately enough, until around Halloween – was suspended after just a few days because it ran out of money.

The architects of Cash for Clunkers couldn’t organize a two hybrid car funeral, but they continue to throw your money at their incompetence, because late last week the House approved $2 billion more so Cash for Clunkers can keep clunking along.

But the item to focus on is the gross budget mismanagement from people who have as much experience running a business in the real world as my dog does at piloting F-16s.

The Obama administration is attempting to use the fact that the program was popular with consumers as evidence that it was a “success,” but it only serves as evidence of Obama administration and congressional incompetence. Unfortunately for Obama and company, many people are aware that sometimes “too successful” is far more expensive than “didn’t work at all.” If Apollo 11 had been “too successful” by the Obama administration’s definition, the crew would have overshot the moon, and they’d be dead and halfway to Alpha Centauri by now. “That’s one small loss of men, one giant leap for bureaucracy.”

In the private sector, when you create a sale or promotion of some sort, you must make sure you’re covered in the event it’s popular with consumers. Poor planning leads to unhappy customers, which culminates in going out of business. Fortunately for the government, they have no such consequence as “going out of business.” In government, incompetence is rewarded. If it screws up, it simply takes more of your money to cover its mistakes.

But people are catching on, and you’re seeing that reflected in the poll numbers for government-run health care and even in Obama’s falling approval ratings.

One car salesman summed up the concern of any American with an I.Q. above Tim Geithner’s shoe size: “If they can’t administer a program like this, I’d be a little concerned about my health insurance.” Indeed.

Unfortunately for Obama, Pelosi, Frank, et al, this is going to be an oft-repeated observation. We may be intimidated by the size and scope of health care and think that somebody else may know better than we do when it comes to something that complex, but when we see those same people screw up a freakin’ car sale, the mask comes off and we don’t want that same bunch messing with our health too.

Think about it this way: If you were waiting to turn in your car, the “we’re outta money” suspension probably wasn’t a big deal – but what if you were waiting for kidney dialysis, chemo or bypass surgery? This will come up on a daily basis with the government in charge of budgeting for your health care.

If just the single example of Cash for Clunkers isn’t enough to cause unease at the thought of the government taking over the health care system, then go back to the “converter box” coupon program during the transition to digital television. That program quickly exceeded the $1.34 billion funding limit set by Congress, causing a delay in the transition and costing an additional few billion dollars to taxpayers and private industry. Cash for Clunkers is brought to us by most of the same people – the same ones who will bring us our “free” health care.

The White House and Congress will continue to resuscitate Cash for Clunkers no matter how much it ends up costing. They have to – because the total failure of this “wild success” may well kill their dreams of national health care, and they know it.

Here’s something for older Americans to ponder: In Cash for Clunkers, the old cars are turned in and put in the scrap heap – even if the cars still run and could be of use to somebody. Americans in their twilight years should be especially wary of the architects of Cash for Clunkers being in control of their health care.

If Cash for Clunkers helps sink Obamacare, then the incredible waste will be money well spent. Who says this government can’t spend wisely once in a while?