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A Pocketful of Miracles

A Commentary By Tony Blankley

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whatever her other capacities, demonstrated last week that she is a master at the poetic art of haiku -- the Japanese poem form that encapsulates in three or fewer lines of 17 or fewer syllables a larger thought or image.

Regarding the Democratic health care bill, she crafted the following haiku to assure the Blue Dog Democrats that they can tell their voters:

"(It) will mean a cap on your costs,

"but no cap on your benefits."

In just two lines of fewer than 17 syllables, the speaker has encapsulated the illogic inherent in the Democratic health care bills. It is a compound proposition that is always untrue for all possible combinations of the true value of its components. Under the Democratic bill, benefits would go up forever, but miraculously, the costs of those ever-increasing benefits never would go up even a cent -- even if our republic lasts for a thousand years.

This is a miracle to match the Lord's provision of loaves and fishes.

"And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

"And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.

"And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children." -- Matthew 14:19-21

Of course, the speaker might retort, it was easy for Jesus because there was no Congressional Budget Office 2,000 years ago. And the CBO has outlawed miracles.

If the miracle had been scored by the CBO: Five thousand men plus 5,000 women plus 12,000 children (2.4 children per man and woman) at five people to a loaf and three people to a fish would require 4,400 loaves at $1 per loaf and 7,333 1/3 fish at $1.50 a fish. Total one-day cost of miracle: $11,001. Assuming daily provision -- annualized rate: $4,015,365. Ten-year budget, assuming no inflation or increase in benefit class: $40,153,650.

I suppose the speaker would argue that if the CBO had been present at the miracle, it would have been delegated to the scene by the Pharisees, who, as Josephus noted, were considered the most expert and accurate expositors of the law.

But perhaps the speaker also would note that the Pharisees were deaf to the teachings of Jesus. After all, "throughout His ministry Jesus violated many of their oral laws. He mixed freely with tax collectors and sinners, making Him ceremonially unclean" (Luke 7:39). "He also freely criticized the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and self righteousness" (Luke 11:37-52).

Obviously, the health care legislation being developed by the president's Democratic allies in Congress all comes down to faith.

While Republicans speak of their faith, the speaker might say, when it comes to providing health care for all the American people, all they can talk about are taxes and costs; they are of little faith.

There is fairness in that charge. They have no faith in miracles to do man's work. (Miracles are for God's work.) And they have no faith in bureaucrats to do a doctor's work. Nor have they faith in government to make decisions for free men. They reserve their faith for God. For the works of man, they measure twice before cutting once.

Of course, when the Lord comes back, should he wish to draft a health care bill for America, I am sure the Republicans would be glad to waive the CBO scoring requirement. Mind you, so much else will be happening at the time -- and there will be no need for out-year cost considerations.

But until that blessed day, neither Republicans nor Democrats may rely on miracles to fund our health care costs. And as to legislation that is premised on the proposition that benefits will be permitted to rise without restraint while costs will not go up at all -- well, that must be submitted to the faithful counters of non-miraculous loaves and fishes at the CBO.

Tony Blankley is executive vice president of Edelman public relations in Washington.

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