Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Don't Take My Word For It

[I'm semi-computer-less for a bit. I wrote this one a while back (updated it slightly) and never got around to posting it. Not obsessively peering at a computer screen, reading all the bad stuff out there, makes for less blog-fodder, if also a certain sense of calm. Ignoring reality, it turns out, isn't all bad. Which explains several phenomena about which I've been prone to writing here.]

Read this post by conservative Andrew Sullivan, regarding Republicans going all in on the Ryan budget, of which the following is a part:

... They deserve political props for nailing this proposal to the door of the White House.

But the substantive criticism is still salient. It is that simply shifting Medicare to private insurance plans with subsidies that will mean progressively less and less healthcare for seniors does not really bring down healthcare costs - just shifts their responsibility away from the federal government. The likelihood that the insurance companies will actually want this new more vulnerable population without at some point, begging the government to provide more resources is ... well, slim. But since the GOP proposal is simply indifferent to whether people have healthcare or not (they effectively withdraw coverage for all those covered by the ACA), this is a feature, not a bug.

The much bigger problem with the GOP plan is its view of taxes. Even though we have historically low income tax rates for high-earning individuals, even though revenues have collapsed in the recession, even though we have empirically discovered that big tax cuts have not generated more economic growth, the GOP still insists on reforming taxes not to raise revenue but to reduce it. This is where the whole thing gets surreal. The very Laffer untruth that sank America into debt in the early 1990s s one still being peddled against all the relevant evidence to guide us through the next few decades...

Then tell me where he's wrong.

As did I recently, he also quotes Reagan's budget director, Bruce Bartlett.

It's simply madness. It's one thing to desire less government, to want to fix what's broken about it, to address ways to control costs of entitlements (but not, evidently, defense). It's quite another to do so with ideas that are unworkable on their face, that arrived stamped "disproved, time and again." And another still that it all passes as somehow serious in the minds of teabaggers. Sort of like the budget deal of a few weeks ago, forced by the supposedly fiscally-sound House Rs as the cost of renewing the Bush tax cuts (!) and yes, subsequently touted as historic by President Obama (why he submitted to the blackmail, I'll never understand): it raised spending this year by 3.2 billion.

If that's not proof that we're screwed, I don't know what is.

1 comment:

  1. When ever someone tells me they are going to reduce costs, the first question that I ask is "whose costs and is there any impact on value?" In this case it would be true that the cost to government would be less, but your point, that the value would also be lessened is what needs to acknowledged.
    Alas both parties are guilty of the same crime, half truths.
    Until prudent politics stops trumping prudent public policy it probably doesn't matter which party is in charge as they are each united in the pursuit of their personal agendas at the expense of those that elected them.


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