Difference In Kind

In her WSJ column, Kimberley Strassel outlines what Americans can expect to see from Obama in a second term: higher taxes, greater spending, growing deficits, fine tuning of the regulatory apparatus, and continued decline of American influence in foreign affairs. She correctly concludes that the real choice in the upcoming election is one between Romney’s reform agenda and a “Supersized Obama.” But a problem with this sort of review is that it suggests the difference between Romney and Obama is simply a difference in degree rather than the difference in kind that it actually is.

Conservatives should argue more forcefully that we are looking at fundamental differences in this election. Romney and Ryan believe that a market-based economy and competition is the best way to organize society to achieve the best results (e.g., greatest prosperity, least inequality). Obama goes in the opposite direction. Since his election in 2008, Obama has proved to love centralized government and central planning. Obama’s plan for healthcare (i.e., his plan for almost 20% of the economy) does not promote the use of markets and competition, which means that in the end, the authoritarians will resort to price controls and restrictions on access in a futile attempt to control costs. And this would only be the beginning (see Obama’s calls to control prices in education).

The majority of Americans agree with Romney and Ryan about the efficacy of a market-oriented economy and society. Liberals are worried about this fact (e.g., see the ridiculous attempt by Matthew Yglesias of Slate to equate a market-based economy with central planning). By not explicitly emphasizing the difference in kind between Obama and Romney, conservatives are missing an opportunity to better clarify what is at stake in the upcoming election.

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