Smart Debt and Stupid Debt
March 11, 2010
Washington—There is a pathetic quality to our discussion of deficits and fiscal responsibility because we never face up to how much we need government to do. Our debates are also characterized by a politically convenient amnesia. Just a decade ago, we were running surpluses so big that Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve, worried about what would happen once our national debt was liquidated. We had this problem well in hand until we started waging wars and cutting taxes at the same time. What would a rational approach to the budget look like?
The Greatest Virtue of the Republican Budget Plan
March 09, 2010
This past Friday, without much fanfare, CBO submitted its analysis of President Obama’s proposed FY 2011 budget. The bottom line is worse than we thought. Despite sustained economic recovery, the budget deficit under the president’s proposal never falls below 4 percent of GDP over the next decade and rises to 5.6 percent by 2020. The aggregate deficit during that period is $9.761 trillion—close to $1 trillion each year on average. Not surprisingly, debt held by the public rises steadily and reaches 90 percent of GDP by 2020.
What, You Have a Better Idea for Cost Control?
March 07, 2010
David Brooks thinks it. David Gregory thinks it. The Washington Post editorial page thinks it. And, what the heck, I think it. If health care reform passes Congress, the final legislation probably won't cut the cost of medical care as quickly as seems possible on paper. But would the legislation make a good start--as good a start as possible, given political reality? Brooks, Gregory, the Post, and plenty of other critics seem to think the answer is "no." I think they are nuts.
Paul Ryan Debunks Himself
March 05, 2010
Since conservatives continue to swoon unashamedly over Paul Ryan and his near-unique ability to ability to discuss health care at some higher level than Fox News talking points -- more examples of the Ryan love-fest can be found here and here -- I should interject to point out that Ryan has proven fairly unable to defend himself. If you're not following this gripping story, Ryan appeared at the Blair House summit and charged that President Obama's health care plan would increase rather than decrease deficits.
Revenge Of The Mayberry Machiavelli
March 02, 2010
In 2003, Ron Suskind wrote a famous article about the Bush administration's lack of interest in, or knowledge of, domestic policy. The article centered on the influence of Karl Rove and his staff: "There were no actual policy white papers on domestic issues. There were, truth be told, only a couple of people in the West Wing who worried at all about policy substance and analysis, and they were even more overworked than the stereotypical nonstop, twenty-hour-a-day White House staff.
Paul Ryan's Hokum
March 02, 2010
At last week's health care summit, Paul Ryan launched a broad attack on the fiscal soundness of President Obama's health care reform. rather than interjecting with a reply, Obama allowed the next speaker in line to make his point. It's possible that Obama, who had otherwise displayed tremendous command of the details of the issue, simply didn't know how to respond.
A Blue Dog Whistle
March 02, 2010
Ezra Klein has a lengthy, thorough response to the arguments that Republican Paul Ryan has made about the Democratic plans for health care reform. According to Ezra, Ryan make a few good points but is mostly wrong. It will shock you, I know, to hear that I agree with Ezra's analysis. But that's not the reason, or at least the only reason, the article is worth reading. At the end of the article, Ezra reports on an interview he conducted with economist Robert Reischauer: Robert Reischauer is the head of the Urban Institute.
Steny Hoyer Is Speaking the Truth
March 01, 2010
In a superb speech at the Brookings Institution this afternoon, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called on the United States—elected representatives and average citizens alike—to “rededicate ourselves to the painful, unglamorous, and indispensible work of fiscal discipline.” Drawing on the studies of leading economists and historians, he warned that failing to do so would be committing ourselves to national decline.
February 26, 2010
Who won? It's the exact same question people asked in 2008, after each of the presidential debates. I didn't like it then and I don't like it now. What's "winning"--scoring more debate points, making fewer gaffes, or simply appealing to more voters? And aren't all those judgments pretty subjective anyway? But if Thursday's event didn't produce a winner, it was clarifying. Health care reform, as I've said many times now, is really about achieving three basic goals: Making sure everybody has insurance, making sure coverage is good, and making sure that, over time, medical care will cost less.
The GOP Wants Capitulation, Not Compromise
February 25, 2010
Who won? It's the exact same question people asked in 2008, after each of the presidential debates. I didn't like it then and I don't like it now. What's "winning"--scoring more debate points, making fewer gaffes, or simply appealing to more voters? And aren't all those judgments pretty subjective anyway? But if Thursday's event didn't produce a winner, it was clarifying. (Click here to read more.)