The Democrats' war on choice


A war on choice is being fought nationwide, but it’s not being prosecuted or publicized in the way you might think.

Democrats like to think of themselves as the defenders of choice, and the media certainly help drive that narrative — as do Republicans. Abortion issues are red meat for hard-core social conservatives and liberals alike. The GOP keeps pushing for new limits on abortion, even when they lack the votes to pass them, which makes fundraising that much easier for Democrats and agitators on the left.

For example, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has introduced legislation to impose a federal ban on abortions after five months of pregnancy, a well-within-the-mainstream proposal that will be portrayed by Democrats as an attack on choice from the radical right.

The headlines never stop. North Dakota lawmakers are determined to redefine the legal boundaries of Roe v. Wade. A Texas law that requires abortion doctors to have privileges at a nearby hospital is headed up the federal appellate chain, as is an Arizona law banning abortions 18 weeks post-fertilization, except in cases of medical emergency. And on and on.

But the issue of choice goes far beyond abortion, to everything from education to energy. Although they command far less attention from the press, on all of these issues — every single one — Democrats are as anti-choice as the Army of God.

Take the school choice movement. In New York City, Democratic Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio wants to wipe out the nearly 200 charter schools that have become immensely popular, especially in low-income neighborhoods. These schools, free from union control, are producing results their dreadful public predecessors never approached. Their continued expansion is a threat to the status quo.

“The assault on charters (and school vouchers or tax credits for Catholic schools) is not about the kids’ education,” Wall Street Journal columnist Dan Henninger wrote last week. “It’s wholly about public-union arithmetic: More members means more union dues means more political power. New York teachers union chief Michael Mulgrew wants those 5,000 charter teachers sending dues to him.”

So much for choice on that front.

Then there’s Obamacare and PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year” for 2013: President Barack Obama’s promise that Americans who liked their existing health insurance coverage would be able to keep it. That’s a pro-choice argument if there ever were one.

Alas, the president and Democrats who wrote the Affordable Care Act never intended to give Americans much of a choice in their medical coverage or their premium prices. As millions of individual insurance policy cancellations poured into mailboxes across the country this fall, Democrats doubled down, asserting that these plans stunk in the first place and that Obamacare-compliant policies would be much, much better. The people who were responsible enough to purchase health insurance before the government ordered them to were simply too dumb to realize as much.

Now Democrats are apoplectic that some companies continue to offer affordable plans that don’t meet the expensive coverage mandates of Obamacare. For many millions of Americans, it’s cheaper to buy the noncompliant insurance and pay the penalty tax than purchase ACA-compliant coverage.

Cue the table-pounding Democrat: Americans weren’t supposed to have a choice!

Still enjoying the right to choose what you eat? Be prepared to pay more for food and drink that lacks the Democrat-approved label. In cities, counties and states across America, Democrats are championing taxes on fast food, sugary foods and fatty foods, if not outright bans. Again, the folks on the left have no confidence in your ability to come around to their way of thinking. So you must be punished.

Denmark recently experimented with a tax on fatty and sugary food. It was repealed one year later because of the burden it put on business and industry, and because Danes were more than willing to visit neighboring nations to stock up on beloved chocolate, butter and cheese and avoid paying the tax.

Democrats aren’t deterred. New party slogan: You can’t have it your way!

How about housing? Over the years, environmentalist Democrats have pushed legislation to hit families who live in what are derisively known as “McMansions.” Such super-sized homes, which have large property tax bills to support state and local governments, are viewed as offensive energy- and resource-wasting eyesores by the left. They’d rather see people live in urban centers and high rises and walk everywhere. Anti-mansion proposals have ranged from zoning restrictions to capped tax deductions. It’s an extension of the punish-the-rich movement.

When it comes to energy, Democrats are all about green: Promoting renewables that jack up your power bill. Want to use coal or nuclear power as part of your electricity portfolio? No choice for you!

The anti-choice campaign even extends to jobs. If you’re an unemployed teen who just wants a chance to earn some pocket money and gain your first work experience, you don’t have a choice in negotiating your wage. The federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour — it’s higher in Nevada and other jurisdictions — applies to everyone and effectively prices most teens out of the job market. How many young people would be working today if there were a sub-minimum wage for those younger than 18? Democrats won’t go for that. They want an even higher federal minimum wage — up to $15 per hour.

Sorry, kid. You don’t get a choice.

I happen to think Republicans are wrong on the abortion issue. Banning stuff doesn’t work. Never has, never will. Abortion limits are worth debating. Bans, on the other hand, do nothing but drive activity underground and create new classes of criminals. Choice works. Choice has the high ground.

I just wish Democrats were in favor of more than one choice.

Glenn Cook (gcook@reviewjournal.com) is the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s senior editorial writer. Follow him on Twitter: @Glenn_CookNV. Listen to him Mondays at 4 p.m. on “Live and Local with Kevin Wall” on KXNT News Radio, 100.5 FM, 840 AM.