The Department of Health and Human Services orders Humana Corp to stop sending out letters to its members claiming that elements of the current health care reform plan flailing about in Congress could cause them to "lose many of the important benefits and services that make Medicare Advantage plans so valuable," claiming the letters are "misleading and confusing."
The Wall Street Journal claims that the Congressional Budget Office should, by those standards, be hit with a similar gag order:
On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office director told Mr. Baucus's committee that its plan to cut $123 billion from Medicare Advantage—the program that gives almost one-fourth of seniors private health-insurance options—will result in lower benefits and some 2.7 million people losing this coverage.
Imagine that. Last week…Jonathan Blum, acting director of a regulatory office in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said that a mailer Humana sent its customers [making a similar point] was "misleading and confusing to beneficiaries, who may believe that it represents official communication about the Medicare Advantage program."
Mark Tapscott at the D.C. Examiner sees this government attempt to hush up Humana's communications with its customers as a disturbing sign of "soft tyranny," apparent in more than one part of the health care debate particularly:
The companies were ordered "to end immediately all such mailings to beneficiaries and to remove any related materials directed to Medicare enrollees from your website."
The bureaucrats added this blunt threat: "Please be advised that we take this matter very seriously and, based upon the findings of our investigation, will pursue compliance and enforcement actions. …."
Those, my friends, are the words of soft tyranny. How much longer before it becomes a hard tyranny?
History—and the words of progressives themselves—suggest not long. Consider New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman's telling admiration for the communist thugs who run the Chinese government:
"One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonabley enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century."
That in a nutshell is the totalitarian temptation that plagues all who would use the power of the state to impose their vision of the good society on the rest of us.