0

O'REILLY: The freedom factor

‘‘Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.'' — Kris Kristofferson

The raging debate over Obamacare is not exactly all about health. It's really about freedom, or lack thereof. It's simple when you cut through all the overheated rhetoric: The anti-Obama folks believe the president is imposing a massive federal presence that will erode personal freedoms. The pro-Obama crew supports a huge federal apparatus to impose ‘‘social justice,'' believing that is the government's moral responsibility.

The personal freedom issue is pretty clear, as well. We have less of it today than we did this time last year. In an aggressive power grab, the feds now control the health care industry, and the IRS has increased its already enormous power, as it will enforce Obamacare mandates. In addition, your private medical records will no longer be private. They will be accessible by federal bureaucrats. If that doesn't make you queasy, nothing will.

And then there's higher education. The president wants the feds, not private lending institutions, to distribute college loans, and it looks like that will happen.

And then there's the banking industry. The Obama administration seeks tough oversight rules and wants to call major shots in the financial world. Federal regulation could strangle some banks and force most of them to do exactly what the government wants.

And then there's the energy industry. The president wants to mandate how private business consumes energy and to dish out financial punishment if federal rules are not followed. That's the cap-and-trade deal.

In addition to the direct intrusion on business and private behavior (through health insurance), the redistribution-of-wealth train is roaring toward its next destination. That would be a national sales tax like they have in Europe. The president well understands the huge debt that is piling up because of all the federal spending. He has to raise more money. Wealthy Americans are going to get hammered by income tax and capital gains hikes, but there are simply not enough rich folks to counter the red ink. So get ready for a proposed new tax on stuff you buy.

Even though everyone will pay the sales tax, there will be a variety of rebates for poor Americans so they will not suffer from the sales tax. The middle class will most likely bear the brunt of it. But it may not happen — Democrats in Congress might well be voted out of power next November. That's one of the high stakes in the midterm election.

Not since the early days of the Vietnam War has there been such a stark divide between liberal and conservative Americans, between Republicans and Democrats. The battle lines are clearly drawn: individual freedom versus federal power. Take your pick.

Veteran TV news anchor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show ‘‘The O'Reilly Factor.''