Update: Speaking of trimming the fat, Mark Steyn writes:
But don't worry, Obamacare will "lower costs." Since passage of the bill in 2010, the CBO has revised its estimate of Obamacare's gross costs over 10 years. Can you guess in which direction, boys and girls? Yes, up from $944 billion to $1.856 trillion. That's some "revision." I wonder where it'll be in another two years.
Well, I'm not the CBO, but I'll take a wild guess: Obamacare is going to be expensive on a scale unknown to European health systems. Look around you. Americans are not Swedes. Obesity rate in the United States: 36 percent; Sweden: 9.7 percent; Japan: 3.2 percent; China: 2.9 percent; India: 0.7 percent. Ours is a country where 78 million people (or about the entire population of Germany) are classified by the Centers for Disease Control as "obese" – including over 40 million women. If 40 million women have it, isn't that a "women's health" issue? Perhaps even a bigger "women's health" issue than the right of thirtysomething students to free contraception? It's the first thing the average American of, say, 1950 would notice if you catapulted him forward from his midcentury Main Street to today: not how amazing all these computer gizmos are, but how large and sick today's Americans look.
As George Will pointed out this week, nanny-state solutions (such as Michelle Obama's current campaign to get us all nibbling organic endives) don't work: Overweight kids in schools with high-calorie junk food, 35.5 percent; overweight kids in schools that banned all the bad stuff, 34.8 percent. Indeed, the bloating of government, of entitlements, of debt, and the increase in obesity track each other pretty closely over the past four decades. If all those debt graphs showing how we've looted our future to bribe the present are too complicated for you, look out the window: We are our own walking (or waddling) metaphor for consumption unmoored from production. And, to the Chinese and many others around the world pondering whether America has the self-discipline to get its house in order, a trip to the mall provides its own answer.