Sneaky Sequentialism

Amid the current debate over expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program – as well as every other attempt to expand federal control over America’s health care sector – opponents accuse proponents of incrementally moving America toward a government-run system.  The strategy seems to be:

First, we let government programs, the tax code, and special-interest-driven regulation slowly kill private markets.  Second, we have government take over each area as it collapses: first health care for the elderly, then the poor, then the kids, then the near-elderly.  Lather, rinse, and repeat until government controls it all.

Left-wing politicians pursue this strategy because they know American voters won’t swallow socialized medicine all at once.  (Just look at what happened to the Clinton health plan.)  And they don’t speak openly about it, because they know voters are less likely to swallow SCHIP expansion if they see where it’s headed. 

That’s why it was so refreshing to read what Ezra Klein blogged while attending the YearlyKos convention last weekend:

At the health care panel, Kathleen Stoll, from Families USA, says, “some of you may think of me as an incrementalist. I prefer to think of myself as a sneaky sequentialist.”

I think I prefer the term “sneaky sequentialism” too.  “Incrementalism” doesn’t necessarily suggest an ultimate destination.  “Sequentialism” suggests there is a destination, and a mind consciously devising a plan to get us there.

In an upcoming briefing paper on SCHIP, I note how that program fits the Left’s sequentialist strategy, and identify Families USA among the “Baptists” who seek to expand SCHIP because that would move us toward total government control of the health care sector.