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Obama’s Big Deficit Speech Will Come Without Specific Plan To Cut Deficit

On Wednesday, President Obama will address the nation in some form to discuss the deficit and National Debt. However, if you were expecting specifics you’re going to be highly disappointed:

WASHINGTON — President Obama will call this week for Republicans to join him in writing a broad plan to raise revenues and reduce the growth of popular entitlement programs, as the battle over the nation’s financial troubles moves past Friday’s short-term budget deal and into a wider and more consequential debate over the nation’s long-term fiscal health.

In a speech to be delivered at a university here on Wednesday, Mr. Obama will in effect come off the sidelines on the debate over reducing the nation’s debt, which is reaching dangerous heights as the population ages.

After months of criticism that he has not led on budget talks, Mr. Obama will urge bipartisan negotiations toward a multiyear debt-reduction plan that administration officials said would depart sharply from the one proposed last week by House Republicans.

The Republican plan includes a shrinking of Medicare and Medicaid and trillions of dollars in tax cuts, while sparing defense spending. Mr. Obama, by contrast, envisions a more comprehensive plan that would include tax increases for the richest taxpayers, cuts to military spending, savings in Medicare and Medicaid, and unspecified changes to Social Security.

In his remarks, which come after Friday’s bipartisan deal to cut domestic spending by about $38 billion for the remainder of this budget year, Mr. Obama will not offer details but will set deficit-cutting goals, White House officials said. The numbers were still under discussion on Sunday.

“He’ll lay out his approach this week in terms of the scale of debt reduction he thinks the country needs so we can grow economically and win the future — a balanced approach,” David Plouffe, the senior White House political strategist, said on “Fox News Sunday,” one of four talk shows on which he appeared Sunday.

“Obviously, we need to look at all corners of government,” Mr. Plouffe said, adding, “We’re going to have a big debate.”

I don’t know, perhaps this will work. Perhaps this call for a “debate” will actually lead to something. I’m not hopeful, though. Why isn’t the President responding to the Ryan Plan by reintroducing the Bowles-Simpson Plan? Why won’t he put something on the record?

It’s very simple, I think. For all his obvious faults, Barack Obama is a smart enough politician to know that putting his name on a real debt reduction plan that would, necessarily, include controversial matters like entitlement reform, would be politically risky. By merely calling for a “debate,” though, he can sit on the sidelines while Congress battles it out — much like he did during the health care debate, the debate over the Bush tax cuts, and the most recent budget battle — only to intervene at the last moment at appear the save the day. It’s not really leadership, but it’s probably smart politics. Unfortunately, it’s exactly what we don’t need right now.

Perhaps there will be more to this speech, we’ll see. But if this is the pre-speech spin the Administration is putting out, they’re telling us not to expect much of anything.

 

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. john personna says:

    It’s better than no-speech, and moving on to whatever other policy proposals …

    it isn’t, for instance, a “more spending” speech.

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  2. Tano says:

    Its not that it is just “risky”. It would be counter-productive. The opposition is seized with a thoroughly irrational reflex of absolute opposition to anything that he proposes. Republican politicians would suffer career-ending attacks from their base if they agree to anything Obama puts forth, even if he copied it word for word from the GOP platform.

    Obama understands that he needs to operate in such an environment – that he needs to lead the Republicans step by step to a place down the road where they will be able to agree on some measures. A big part of that is give them, and the Congressional Democrats as well, buy-in to the process. Point to some area and, instead of offering details, solicit input. That is how you get a conversation going, and it is how you get people to feel ownership of the process, and the product, even if it ends up being significantly different from their starting position.

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  3. Jay Tea says:

    The thing to watch for, however, is “invest.” Liberals don’t spend, they “invest in the future.”

    Anyone want to put an over/under on the number of times that word crops up in Obama’s grand speech?

    J.

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  4. john personna says:

    Liberals don’t spend, they “invest in the future.”

    Actually, that’s just code for schools spending, something that does go down very well with the mainstream.

    I’m one of the few people who would restructure and spend less on education, but I’m way out in the minority on that one.

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  5. Jay Tea says:

    john, I think I got you beat. My idea:

    Abolish the Department of Education. Take half its budget and apply it to the debt. Take the other half and divide it among the several states for “education,” with no other limits or restrictions, on a per capita basis for students, and let the states set their own priorities.

    J.

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  6. Wayne says:

    The old he is being a political mastermind again excuse. The real reason is he doesn’t know how to lead, create legislation, balance a budget, get into the grass, etc. Once again he will come up with some vague ideas without a clue or plan to get there. Voting present.

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  7. Axel Edgren says:

    Hey, the more specific and honest you get, the less the village and the voters respect you.

    If Ryan of Nazareth can get any other response than a lynching out of the Established People, then Obama has nothing to gain from overestimating the intelligence of his audience.

    In other words: No one cares if Mataconis or Andrew Sullivan are underwhelmed.

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  8. john personna says:

    As I understand it Jay, most spending is already at the state level. Those state budgets are already in big trouble. So, while abolishing the DOE would probably cut a small percentage of total spending, it would certainly come at the worst time.

    That means the Federal contribution to elementary and secondary education is about 10.8 percent, which includes funds not only from the Department of Education (ED) but also from other Federal agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services’ Head Start program and the Department of Agriculture’s School Lunch program.

    IMO the reason to have a federal role is to prevent poor states from spiraling down. With less money they have worse schools, wash, rinse, repeat.

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  9. john personna says:

    (On the other hand, if you want us Californians to continue to dominate, by all means, stop funding poor state education!)

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  10. john personna says:

    Wayne, you know you’ve been workin’ it too hard when your trolls are just boring.

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  11. jwest says:

    This is about what anyone could expect from someone as unqualified for presidency as Obama.

    Since he had never held a position previously that required decision making, leadership or courage, I fail to understand why people would expect him to exhibit these qualities now. Voting “present” and calling for bipartisanship is about all he’s trained to do.

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  12. john personna says:

    jwest brings the boring as well.

    Geez guys, go work on your material. Cutting and pasting a generic “unqualified newbie” text doesn’t work forever.

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  13. john personna says:

    Here’s the truth: Obama doesn’t actually have to move (can’t move) that much faster than the electorate.

    Do you remember how fast the deficit reduction committee’s report died a gruesome death?

    It was an unacceptable truth.

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  14. Ron says:

    We all know what has to be done. The problem in this country seems to be having the courage to say it. So here is a comprehensive plan for the budget.

    (1) Promote the economic recovery. Much of our current budget deficit was caused by the loss of revenue and increase in expenses that were caused by the recent Recession. Thus, we should continue moderate Keynesian spending plans that will slowly be eliminated as the recovery becomes stronger. We must not repeat the crisis of 1937, when abrupt plans to balance the budget prolonged the Great Depression. We cannot continue to cut taxes further to stimulate growth, since that approach has proven disastrous over the past 30 years. Indeed, the biggest growth came in the 90s, following a tax increase.

    (2) Let the Bush tax cuts expire for everyone. Republicans want to protect the rich, and Obama wants to protect the poor, but they both need to hold hands and end these cuts. They are the primary reason our revenues are at a historic low (as a percentage of GDP). They were a bad idea, led to no economic growth, and are bankrupting our country. If we end them for everyone it will maintain a sense of fairness in the tax code.

    (3) Cut defense spending as we end our wars. For better or worse, we are essentially done in Iraq and almost done in Afghanistan. Libya should not be a long-term commitment. Since we spend more on defense than the rest of the world combined, we need to cut back. But cut back gradually, perhaps 5% a year for four years, and then stabilize spending and take stock of where we are. To do this, we should let the military decide what expenses will best protect the country, rather than have Congress micromanage weapons systems and expenses.

    (4) Reform entitlement spending. This problem has two halves. Social Security can be dealt with through a few small fixes, like raising the retirement age by one year. Medicare and Medicaid require much more attention. I disagree with the Ryan plan, which would gut these programs and eliminate the ability of collective negotiating (by the government for the elderly) to keep prices down. We should study the best foreign medical programs (such as Germany’s) an adopt cost-cutting measures modeled on their ideas. They spend much less per person than we do, but get results as good or better than ours.

    (5) Reform corporate taxes. To stimulate job growth, reform corporate taxes (in a neutral fashion) to dramatically lower rates and cut paperwork, while eliminating loopholes (which create paperwork). Right now the rates appear high, but are often low in practice. So we should make them low but fair, in a way that doesn’t alter revenue but does simplify tax forms.

    (6) Don’t scoff at investments. The Republican party of Lincoln invested heavily in railroads, and that of Eisenhower in highways. The Democratic party has had major successes promoting computer technology through the Space program in the 60s, and the internet inthe 90s. All of these investments have paid for themselves many times over thought increased economic growth and competitiveness. And they require support for Higher Education, to create the innovations of tomorrow.

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  15. Aidan says:

    Because he doesn’t think Bowles-Simpson should be implemented. Next question?

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  16. Kylopod says:

    >This is about what anyone could expect from someone as unqualified for presidency as Obama.

    It’s true that there’s no way an Illinois lawyer who served for eight years in the state legislature and a few more in Congress could possibly be an effective president.

    No way at all.

    >Voting “present” and calling for bipartisanship is about all he’s trained to do.

    The myth that refuses to idea. It’s true that as a state senator, he voted “present” over a hundred times (an accepted parliamentary procedure in the Illinois legislature). But this constituted a tiny percentage of the 4,000 some votes he cast in his eight years there–just 3% of his total votes. In other words, 97% of the time, he voted a straight yes or no. And when he came to the U.S. Senate, he never voted present–despite Sarah Palin’s lie to the contrary.

    So let’s just stop dredging up old campaign propaganda that amounts to an unwillingness to even give Obama a chance.

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  17. Hey Norm says:

    Funny how a guy who is not a leader got health care passed when real leaders from both partys had been trying for 50 years and failing. What else…oh yeah…stopped the biggest economic disaster since the depression, including rescuing the auto industry and reworking tarp so it actually made money. He got rid of the f22raptor boon-doggle, which the last leader couldn’t do. He got Russia and china together on sanctions for Iran. Maybe there are different forms and styles of leadership?
    I’m really not interested in politics as a football game…who’s winning the baggers or the dems? I’m interested in moving forward as a country. And Obama is getting that done. Sure not everyone agrees but statistically speaking those people also believe the president was born in Kenya, that evolution is a hoax, that 100% of the peer reviewed science on climate change is made up, that dinosaurs and humans walked the earth together, that tax cuts pay for themselves, that Sarah palin is honest, and anyone who works for someone else is a leech. So consider the source.

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  18. Jay Tea says:

    Hey, Norm –

    Pelosi and Reid ought to get the credit/blame for ObamaCare. And I presume you’ve never played Risk? One of the governing principles of that game carries over into real life — it ain’t what you can take, but what you can hold.

    Likewise, ObamaCare is being fought by the majority of states, and its Constitutional underpinnings are very shaky, to say the least. Let’s see how it plays out before you declare victory.

    J.

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  19. Hey Norm says:

    The ACA is being fought by partisan hack AG’s. It’s underpinnings are fine. That’s not to say the Tea Bagging Supremes won’t strike it down. If they will take it upon themselves to appoint a President they’ll pretty much do anything. Scalia will have to reverse himself on a number of previous opinions to do it, but he’s been bought so I’m sure he will.

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  20. ponce says:

    “Why isn’t the President responding to the Ryan Plan …”

    And when is he going to get around to answering Glenn Beck’s plans, too?

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  21. Stan says:

    Jay Tea, about 15% of Americans lack health insurance, and the number is growing. What’s your solution for the problem?

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  22. Kylopod says:

    >Pelosi and Reid ought to get the credit/blame for ObamaCare.

    They do get some credit for making it a reality, but they weren’t the reasons the bill was on the table in the first place. According to inside accounts such as Jonathan Alter’s The Promise, most of Obama’s advisers, as well as Pelosi and Reid, advised against pursuing comprehensive health care reform. So did most of Clinton’s advisers, for that matter. There was an economic crisis in the country, and it was far from self-evident that health care was the priority. Obama would have probably had an easier time in his first two years if he’d focused all his energy on confronting the crisis at hand rather than some long-term goal such as health care reform. He made a choice to pursue it because he felt it was worthwhile, despite the manifold political risks it entailed, and the memory of how it almost destroyed Clinton’s presidency. I call that leadership.

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  23. Jay Tea says:

    Stan, I don’t buy that number. The last version of it I saw included illegal aliens. Further, there are a percentage that have no health insurance by choice — the young, healthy ones who are making a deliberate choice to spend their money in other areas.

    And I don’t have a solution, but that doesn’t mean that ObamaCare — which will most likely result in a lot of people having worse coverage and care than they have now, and is only likely to provide coverage for a fraction of those uncovered — will be an improvement.

    J.

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  24. Jay Tea says:

    Stan, here’s a solution. My own insurance plan runs me about $1300/year. Let’s just give everyone a voucher for, say, $3,000 (double my own plan, rounded up) and say “get your own insurance.” I bet that would get more people insurance, and be cheaper, than ObamaCare.

    J.

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  25. For all his obvious faults, Barack Obama is a smart enough politician to know that putting his name on a real debt reduction plan that would, necessarily, include controversial matters like entitlement reform, would be politically risky.

    So much for leadership.

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  26. Hey Norm says:

    Kylopod…
    Just a reminder that the ACA is part of a long term solution to the crisis at hand. The root of Medicares problem is health care costs. The ACA has a lot of experimental programs that should lower costs and improve outcomes. Obama seems to play the long game.
    Again…there are a lot of naysayers…but given the other whacky things they believe in…

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  27. Andre Kenji says:

    1-) The problem of the US welfare state is that it spends disproportionately on older people. Cutting education while not reforming Medicare is investing in the past, not the future, as George Will once said.

    2-) HCR Bill did not address the main problem of health care in the US: extremely high medical costs. I once saw in Brazil working class people paying their doctors, out of their pockets. Not even millionaires can do that in the US.

    3-) As Katty Kay once said people aren´t worried about the deficit because the aren´t feeling the effects of it. That will change when interest rates go up.

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  28. Hey Norm says:

    JT
    Your insurance does not cost $1300 a year. Does it come from an employer?

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  29. Hey Norm says:

    For $1300 a year you are probably single and have a fairly high deductible. The average cost for a family is $13,000…ten times what you pay.

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  30. Jay Tea says:

    Norm, I specifically said it “runs me.” So yeah, doubled for employee contribution, it would be $2600. I rounded it up from there. But fine, quibble about the amount — you got a problem with the basic concept? Or does the fact that it puts too much power in the hands of the individual and doesn’t consolidate it in the hands of the federal bureaucracy (as well as creating whole new layers and divisions of bureaucrats) make it a deal-breaker?

    J.

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  31. john personna says:

    So much for leadership.

    Another cut-and-paste that we’ve seen so many times before.

    It still doesn’t get it. It’s still stupid. But feel free to repeat, I guess. An old joke is that “redundancy is the soul of the internet.”

    Leaders can lead of course, but they are constrained. Maybe it is not obvious to the stupid, but a leader may only go where people will follow. It’s analogous to the military saying, “never give an order that won’t be followed.”

    If you go too far out on an extreme, as the deficit reduction committee did, no one follows. Sad really, because that was the rational path to take.

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  32. jwest says:

    The answer for how healthcare should be handled is fairly simple.

    Health savings accounts (subsidized for those who need it) for all health maintenance and foreseeable expenses, along with government-run single payer for catastrophic illness or accident. Although this appears to be counter-conservative, it is consistent with the values of F.A. Hayek as mentioned in “The Road to Serfdom”.

    “Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist the individuals in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision. Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance – where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks – the case for the state’s helping to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong.”

    The best argument for this type of system is that the government is solely the authoritative body that can impose and enforce the decisions of a Death Panel (for lack of a better name) without the liability of a private insurance carrier. By making the choices of how far heroic efforts and procedures will be used on which individuals, the overall cost of healthcare could be reduced dramatically.

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  33. G.A.Phillips says:

    The Plan:Say hope and change, blame Bush, and play golf…oh, and waste money at it….

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  34. ponce says:

    “By making the choices of how far heroic efforts and procedures will be used on which individuals, the overall cost of healthcare could be reduced dramatically.”

    America can’t rationally make choices like that until we admit to ourselves that all of of us will actually, one day, die.

    Pretending death doesn’t happen in America is quite costly.

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  35. jwest says:

    One thing I should mention in the plan above, the Health Savings Accounts are for direct, fee for service payments directly to the providers. No insurance companies. This reintegrates the consumer with the provider which will bring everyday costs into line through competition.

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  36. Hey Norm says:

    JT
    That amount doesn’t begin to cover a family.
    Also it doesn’t begin to solve the problem of pre-existing, or if you are in the open market being dropped the minute you have a serious problem.
    Also, if you don’t have national standards there is a rush to the loosest states. There’s a reason so many credit card companies are in Delaware…they can get away with more there.
    Also…The ACA is free market solution. It works within the established provider system.
    I’m sure there are better solutions – there always are. Which is why states can opt out if they meet the standards set.

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  37. john personna says:

    Health savings accounts (subsidized for those who need it) for all health maintenance and foreseeable expenses, along with government-run single payer for catastrophic illness or accident. Although this appears to be counter-conservative, it is consistent with the values of F.A. Hayek as mentioned in “The Road to Serfdom”.

    I could get behind that, jwest.

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  38. michael reynolds says:

    He’s “failing to lead” just like he did on health care reform and yet somehow got though what many presidents had tried and failed.

    Ditto the stimulus.

    Ditto financial reform.

    Ditto the auto company rescue.

    Ditto DADT.

    Ditto Planned Parenthood and NPR.

    He keeps on “failing to lead” and yet getting his way.

    Funny how often he gets his way, what with having no leadership skills. I mean, if he can’t lead one has to wonder just how stupid Republicans have to be to keep getting beaten by him.

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  39. john personna says:

    So michael, claiming budgetary success?

    Or worse, claiming this budget is “getting his way?”

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  40. Steve Verdon says:

    It’s very simple, I think. For all his obvious faults, Barack Obama is a smart enough politician to know that putting his name on a real debt reduction plan that would, necessarily, include controversial matters like entitlement reform, would be politically risky. By merely calling for a “debate,” though, he can sit on the sidelines while Congress battles it out — much like he did during the health care debate, the debate over the Bush tax cuts, and the most recent budget battle — only to intervene at the last moment at appear the save the day. It’s not really leadership, but it’s probably smart politics. Unfortunately, it’s exactly what we don’t need right now.

    I agree it is rather cynical for somebody promoting hope and change. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama tried to push the issue past the 2012 election. Putting your name on controversial and even unpopular proposals, no matter how badly they are needed, is not a winning strategy. Problem is it isn’t a strategy that is likely to improve our fiscal outlook which is rather grim right now.

    (1) Promote the economic recovery. Much of our current budget deficit was caused by the loss of revenue and increase in expenses that were caused by the recent Recession. Thus, we should continue moderate Keynesian spending plans that will slowly be eliminated as the recovery becomes stronger.

    This, I think, is a mistake. Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) is back to where it was pre-recession. Continuing to try and pump up that portion of demand is likely to be meet with decreasing amounts of success. Investment on the other hand is lagging and many firms are sitting on piles of cash. Promoting investment maybe the better strategy.

    However, your warning about 1937 is well worth keeping in mind.

    (2) Let the Bush tax cuts expire for everyone.

    I think this is problematic too. As I noted above PCE is back to where it was. However, people are still worried about the economy. Growth is tepid, the job market while showing signs of recovery is still bad, and things like rising oil prices are another thing that may cause problems down the road. Increasing taxes on everyone strikes me as a good way to get consumers to turtle up again. I’m quite open to letting the Bush tax cuts expire on those making $250,000+, but I think an across the board tax hike right now is not indicated. Also, see your point about 1937 above.

    (4) Reform entitlement spending. This problem has two halves. Social Security can be dealt with through a few small fixes, like raising the retirement age by one year. Medicare and Medicaid require much more attention. I disagree with the Ryan plan, which would gut these programs and eliminate the ability of collective negotiating (by the government for the elderly) to keep prices down. We should study the best foreign medical programs (such as Germany’s) an adopt cost-cutting measures modeled on their ideas. They spend much less per person than we do, but get results as good or better than ours.

    This is DOA. There are only two countries with sustainable plans and I don’t think they’d necessarily be sustainable here. It would also require a massive overhaul of the health care system. And it may even require things like health care savings accounts which just about everyone on the right has a nearly fanatical and insane hatred for. Don’t get me wrong, if we could do this I think it would help, possibly a great deal, but its DOA.

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  41. Stan says:

    I’m still trying to figure out why Steve Verdon thinks that the Dutch have a sustainable health care plan and the British don’t.

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  42. Steve Verdon says:

    Ditto the stimulus.

    Ditto financial reform.

    Ditto the auto company rescue.

    Where you see successes I see problems and issues. Yes politically Obama won (i.e. in the next election he’ll be able to say he passed all those things and that they were all rainbows and unicorns). So what? The question is were these the right policies, the best policies or even good policies? I think a case can be made that none of them are really all that great. Financial reform will just further entrench the system that lead us into the last recession. Success?

    How about the stimulus? Did it work? I think there is considerable room for doubt in there. At best it may have helped, but came with a very high price tag. Auto company “rescue” (bailout is more like it)? Great, create another industry that can perceive itself as too big to fail and take on excessive risk. In other words legislation and policy that makes increasing moral hazard the order of the day.

    Funny how often he gets his way, what with having no leadership skills. I mean, if he can’t lead one has to wonder just how stupid Republicans have to be to keep getting beaten by him.

    It isn’t leadership to “win” at politics, at least that is not how Doug is using the word. Our country faces a number of very tough issues such as Medicare. Problem is health care reform doesn’t do nearly enough. Granted on paper it looks like it, but time and again, Congress has side stepped reductions in Medicare spending that are already in place for the past decade or so. Since that same discretion still exists with the current shape of health care reform it is hard to believe that suddenly our “leaders” are going to find intestinal fortitude to stick to said cuts. When faced by a large and growing demographic that votes they will go down faster than a $3 crack whore.

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  43. jwest says:

    john persona,

    Conservatism – Catch the Fever!

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  44. michael reynolds says:

    JP:

    The cuts amounted to what? Some fraction of 1%? It’s the equivalent of when I don’t eat the very last bite of a burger and think I’ve dieted.

    Obama has a very strange style. I find it very frustrating because I’m blunt and pushy and I not only want to win I want the guy I beat to know it. (Just one of many character traits that lead us all to think, Thank God Reynolds isn’t running the world.)

    There’s something very Asian about his approach. He could have been Japanese or Chinese the way he looks for consensus, sets his ego aside, let’s his opponents overcommit, then arrives at the last minute and wraps up a win before anyone knows what’s happened. He’s a very Sun Tzu kind of guy.

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  45. Steve Verdon says:

    I’m still trying to figure out why Steve Verdon thinks that the Dutch have a sustainable health care plan and the British don’t.

    The British National Health is in financial trouble. Is it as bad as ours? No. Still the growth rate in spending is not sustainable. Any government program that is going to grow faster than the economy supporting it is not sustainable.

    As for the Netherlands while they had fairly recent reform the growth rates I’ve seen have been in the range of 3% which is far, far better than what we see in the U.S. and Britain. Also, the Dutch system is much more market oriented than in England, which is not something many in the comments here will like.

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  46. michael reynolds says:

    Steve V:

    I think the actual policies are a question or questions separate from his ability to lead and prevail.

    People who deride his skill set need to pay less attention to the lack of familiar posturing and bluster, and more attention to the fact that he keeps getting his way.

    Do I, as an Obama voter, feel I got everything I wanted or expected in policy terms? Not yet. I’d be handing out a “B” if I were grading. And I find Obama’s style frustrating. But none of that alters the fact that I find his ability to win without seeming to do anything a little unsettling and kind of impressive. I’m actually trying to learn from the guy. I wish I knew how to do what he does.

    It’s fascinating to watch, as someone who enjoys the game as game. As I said above it’s very Sun Tzu. Or possibly matador: cape swirling, a clumsy foe being expertly sidestepped, then when the bull is exhausted and confused, the blade.

    Policy-wise we have a series of tough issues that could have been won or lost but were usually won on an unsatisfying compromise. “My” side never gets 100% but we seem to consistently get 75%.

    I’m waiting to see what that means in terms of the long game. It would be interesting to see how well this approach worked against political opponents who weren’t imbeciles.

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  47. Dave Schuler says:

    The president is under no obligation to produce a budget. That’s the job of the House of Representatives.

    We’ve got obvious fiscal problems. They’ve been obvious for nearly a generation. We’ve either got to cut spending or increase taxes or some of both (my preference). Unless we’re willing to grow a lot slower than we have (note: growth has been quite slow for the last ten years) or, said another way, unless we’re willing to let the unemployment level hover around 10% for the foreseeable future, that means that we can’t raise taxes a lot. And cutting spending inevitably means that you spend less on what you have been spending on which the numbers say is healthcare for the elderly, Social Security, healthcare for the poor, and military spending.

    I find it pretty hard to reconcile the president’s various positions, i.e. that we should retain the tax rates on those with the highest incomes as they were under the Bush Administration, that we should maintain or expand overseas military commitments, and that we shouldn’t spend less on healthcare for the elderly or poor.

    Unless we do cut healthcare spending (and I don’t mean pretend to cut for the sake of passage) it’s going to overwhelm the rest of the economy.

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  48. michael reynolds says:

    Dave and Steve:

    Do both of you discount the possibility of a sort of rolling technological paradigm shift in medical?
    I’m thinking of the easy stuff — electronic record keeping, Skype doctor visits, efficiencies in long-term care — and more speculative stuff: home diagnostic iPhone apps, computer-driven medical opinions, more computerized test-reading.

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  49. Drew says:

    “I’m one of the few people who would restructure and spend less on education, but I’m way out in the minority on that one.”

    I’ll bet not as small a minority as you suspect. And we are both part of it.

    As for all the balance of commentary here: Obama is voting “present.” Same as it ever was.

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  50. Dave Schuler says:

    Do both of you discount the possibility of a sort of rolling technological paradigm shift in medical?
    I’m thinking of the easy stuff — electronic record keeping, Skype doctor visits, efficiencies in long-term care — and more speculative stuff: home diagnostic iPhone apps, computer-driven medical opinions, more computerized test-reading.

    I think there will be lots of technological shifts in the years to come. I just don’t think they’ll result in cost savings. One man’s cost is another man’s income.

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  51. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Affirmative action cases don’t have to have specific plans, do they?

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  52. michael reynolds says:

    Drew:

    And yet he’s kicking your butt.

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  53. jwest says:

    Michael,

    You do realize you’re the only person in the country who thinks Obama is winning, don’t you?

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  54. michael reynolds says:

    Tsar:

    Setting aside for the moment your racist imbecility, I have to address your historical imbecility.

    I note that you have changed your screen name from Tsar Nichaolas II to Tsar Nicholas. Perhaps after I pointed out to you that Nicky 2 was a notoriously weak, p*ssy-whipped, superstitious ninny who managed to lose an empire.

    Unfortunately Nicky 1 was no rocket scientist either. He was outwitted by the wily Brits and blundered into the Crimean War, which he made a mess of and ended up handing the fiasco off to Alexander II who essentially gave up and walked away.

    Here’s a nice note on Nicky 1 from Wikipedia: At the end of his life, one of his most devoted civil servants, A.V. Nikitenko, opined that, “The main failing of the reign of Nicholas Pavlovich was that it was all a mistake.

    So you may want to try again to find a screen name that somehow conveys the manly manitude you’re obviously desperate to appropriate. Why not go with Alexander I? He beat Napoleon. Or Alexander II, considered a “liberal’ Tsar and possessor of excellent facial hair.

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  55. michael reynolds says:

    jwest:

    I’m used to being the smartest guy in the room. It’s the cross I bear.

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  56. mantis says:

    As for all the balance of commentary here: Obama is voting “present.” Same as it ever was.

    The president doesn’t vote on legislation, dimwit. He signs or vetoes it. Some basic civics is in order, as it is for all wingnuts who harp on about our constitution, yet don’t have the slightest understanding of it.

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  57. Stan says:

    Steve Verdon, thank you for your courteous reply.

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  58. jwest says:

    Michael,

    It’s like we were separated at birth. However, you were brought up in some hippy commune.

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  59. William Teach says:

    It’s very simple, I think. For all his obvious faults, Barack Obama is a smart enough politician to know that putting his name on a real debt reduction plan that would, necessarily, include controversial matters like entitlement reform, would be politically risky.

    While that is certainly a part of it (considering how often Obama has voted “present” as a state legislator, a federal Senator, and as President), the real reason is that it would be hard work, so, Obama will lay out his vision, and just expect Someone Else to get ‘er done.

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  60. mantis says:

    Another wingnut with no understanding of our government. Thanks, Teach. You ought to change your name, though. False advertising.

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  61. PD Shaw says:

    “There’s something very Asian about his approach”

    I denounce and decry michael’s coded appeal to birtherism. I think Obama’s style owes a lot to his experience in Illinois. Here, self-preservation is the highest value, and the most opportune moment to exercise influence without risk is when the final deal is being made.

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  62. michael reynolds says:

    jwest:

    Actually, I was raised on or around military bases: Eglin, Hurlburt Field, Eustis, Belvoir and some in France that no longer exist. I’m an army brat with a father who did a tour in Korea and two tours in Vietnam. I’m a high school drop-out who has worked full-time since age 16, always in excess of 40 hours a week. So if you substitute workaholic army brat for hippie commune, okay.

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  63. michael reynolds says:

    PD:

    You may be onto something there. But having lived 5 happy years in the great state of Illinois I am reluctant to judge the state too harshly. Aside from the weather, which I am happy to denounce at great length.

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  64. G.A.Phillips says:

    There’s something very Asian about his approach. He could have been Japanese or Chinese the way he looks for consensus, sets his ego aside, let’s his opponents overcommit, then arrives at the last minute and wraps up a win before anyone knows what’s happened. He’s a very Sun Tzu kind of guy.

    craziest $hit I have read all day, good job Harry:)

    LMAO!!!!!!!!!

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  65. john personna says:

    @jwest “Conservatism – Catch the Fever!”

    What surprised me was that your proposal, with “subsidized for those who need it” and “”government-run single payer for catastrophic illness or accident” is so far left of the conservative defenses

    Do you really expect to see a bill introduced along those lines?

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  66. Steve Verdon says:

    I’m thinking of the easy stuff — electronic record keeping, Skype doctor visits, efficiencies in long-term care — and more speculative stuff: home diagnostic iPhone apps, computer-driven medical opinions, more computerized test-reading.

    This is the kind of thing where having a profit motive is create. If these cut costs they necessarily enhance profits, at least in the short run. If there is no profit motive and we can’t or are having a hard time doing them now, then I don’t see much hope for them.

    To see why consider all the typical blather about “green jobs”. These are jobs, often tens of thousands, that we’ll get by subsidizing some new fad green technology. Problem is that this technology has to be subsidized, so the new jobs are really new, they are just taken from some other part of the economy as the resources that would have been used to employ them in say making patio furniture, soda, pencils, and staffing hotels is diverted to the new green technology. If taxes are involved there is also a deadweight loss as well that is economic value that is simply gone. In short there is no such thing as a free lunch.

    I can see some politician making a slightly similar argument against all the things you note Michael because they might result in higher unemployment. Might endanger profits, etc. In other words, the political friction has to be overcome…but that may not be good politics. And as you note, Obama has been pretty good at politics. See where this is going?

    Dave put it better. One man’s cost is indeed another man’s income. Given that the ACA entrenches and ossifies our current system, while I don’t discount the notion that technology could help, it may not.

    Also, there is Jevon’s paradox. Typically we see it with gasoline and energy, but the actual definition applies to any resource where technological progress could bring about a savings in regards to the use of that resource. We might actually end up spending even more than is saved. To really make sure you get the savings you’d probably have to tax those savings away.

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  67. steve says:

    http://healthcare-economist.com/2007/09/07/wsj-on-the-dutch-health-care-system/

    The dutch system requires a lot of government intervention, something which a lot of commenters on this blog would not like.

    HSAs There is still no evidence that they actually save money. People who are not sick like them. Like most plans coming from the right, they are trying to save costs in ordinary trips to their PCP, which is not what is driving our costs.

    Steve

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  68. jwest says:

    John personna,

    Subsidized health savings accounts are straight from Bush’s plan. When he proposed that everything be on the table, which could have included a single payer catastrophic provision, Pelosi and Reed refused to discuss it.

    Hard to get something done when you don’t come to the table.

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  69. jwest says:

    Steve,

    In my model, HSAs are used for direct payment from consumer to end provider. This opens the medical profession to hyper-specialization, competition and lower cost. Here’s an ad from 2020:

    Barb: Hi Sally! Are you coming to the pool for a swim?
    Sally: I wish I could Barb, but I have this unsightly mole on my butt.
    Dr. Assman: Don’t let that mole keep you from enjoying life, ladies! Dr. Assman’s Clinics will remove any butt mole for only $49.95!
    Sally: Any size mole?
    Dr. Assman: $49.95!
    Barb: Even from a butt that big?
    Dr. Assman: $49.95! and we’ll even do an additional mole for $25 (this week only).
    Sally: Oh, Dr. Assman, you’ve saved my summer!

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  70. Southern Hoosier says:

    Tano says: Monday, April 11, 2011 at 09:30
    Its not that it is just “risky”. It would be counter-productive. The opposition is seized with a thoroughly irrational reflex of absolute opposition to anything that he proposes.

    Comrade Obama, the Great One, is very clever. He proposes nothing, so the opposition can’t oppose him.

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  71. William Teach says:

    mantis says:
    Monday, April 11, 2011 at 14:48

    Another wingnut with no understanding of our government. Thanks, Teach. You ought to change your name, though. False advertising.

    You kinda forgot to illuminate me on where I was wrong, particularly since I wasn’t speaking about government, but, about the complete failure of your leader, mantis. But, thanks for playing.

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  72. Steve Verdon says:

    HSAs There is still no evidence that they actually save money. People who are not sick like them. Like most plans coming from the right, they are trying to save costs in ordinary trips to their PCP, which is not what is driving our costs.

    I’ve seen arguments that they do work and don’t. I think part of the problem is that Singapore doesn’t keep data that is sufficient to definitively answer the question. For example, if the HSAs result in a growing pool of funds people might start demanding services that previously were not available. That would increase costs, but it might also increase consumer welfare and so long as the rate of growth isn’t going to swamp the growth in HSA funds it isn’t necessarily a problem.

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  73. Paul says:

    Doug,

    Obama can’t come up with a plan. In fact he sure won’t come up with a plan as that is above his pay grade.

    Keep in mind he is a ‘community organizer’ and thus makes decisions by committee. Never never would HE come up with a plan.

    Talk yes, plan no. That is the true nature of his style and why he golf’s and takes vacations so much. He expects others to plan and all parties to agree before they even see him.

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  74. jwest says:

    Boy, this is a tough room.

    The Dr. Assman commercial was comedic gold, seamless woven in to a serious policy proposal, bringing humor to bear to illustrate conservative HSAs in action.

    We’re all going to wait right here for the applause….

    (crickets…)

    …..I’ve got all night.

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  75. Jay Tea says:

    mantis: as far as the “voting present” goes, see “metaphor.”

    He “voted present” on the health care bill — it was written in the House, with minimal involvement from him — and last week’s budget deal.

    Norm: I think I missed explicitly stating one key aspect — I implied it, but didn’t say it in so many words. The vouchers would be so much per individual.

    jwest: you forgot one thing. Under ObamaCare, you need a doctor’s prescription to use your HSA. Which means a doctor’s visit and co-pay to get the prescription for, say, Tylenol and Band-Aids an Pepto-Bismol. God forbid you use your own money for your own health care in a way that doesn’t first get approved by your government-paid doctor…

    J.

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  76. Hey Norm says:

    HSA money for Tylenol?
    Do you make a claim on your car insurance for an oil change?
    Talk about looking for a nanny state.

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  77. steve says:

    jwest- You cant make things work w/o some kind of insurance. There is no other realistic way to pay for major procedures and treatments. HSAs might work to reduce some spending for primary care, but that is not where our excess spending is occurring. The Dutch realized this. They require everyone to have health care (individual mandate). They have private insurance for everyone. They subsidize for the sick. Since most medical spending is done by a minority of people, they are using markets to hold down costs on the small stuff, but then the government pays for sick care. IOW, they figured out that HSAs work great for healthy people, so they didnt go that route as they wanted to cover everyone.

    Steve

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  78. mantis says:

    He “voted present” on the health care bill — it was written in the House, with minimal involvement from him — and last week’s budget deal.

    You’re just determined to prove yourself as dumb as the dumbest of wingnut commenters, aren’t you? Ah well, everyone needs goals.

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  79. mantis says:

    You kinda forgot to illuminate me on where I was wrong, particularly since I wasn’t speaking about government, but, about the complete failure of your leader, mantis.

    You were talking about the failure of my leader? His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has not failed!

    Anyway, assuming you were actually talking about the president, I’ll have you know he is involved in this whole “government” thing of which you are just now learning.

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  80. Michael Reynolds — having been born in the state of Illinois and living there for my first 23+ years, I can find lots of things to not like about it and choose not to live there even though I can now (currently just across the border in Missouri), even when it would have saved me perhaps $80-100K in college costs for my kids.

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  81. john personna says:

    We have not seen jevons’ paradox – we have seen consumption track gdp, which is a different pattern.

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  82. mantis says:

    Michael Reynolds — having been born in the state of Illinois and living there for my first 23+ years, I can find lots of things to not like about it and choose not to live there even though I can now (currently just across the border in Missouri), even when it would have saved me perhaps $80-100K in college costs for my kids.

    Sheesh. We really got you bad, chuckie. Was it the Illinois Nazis? I hate those guys too.

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  83. john personna says:

    Note also that US fleet avg mpg is essentially equal to Model A mpg. No huge efficiency gains to drive a jeavons scenario

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  84. Jay Tea says:

    Hey, Norm — in theory, my HSA is MY money, set aside for MY use. While I’ve never used it for Tylenol, I have for store-brand Ibuprofen and a wrist brace when I started getting signs of CTS (it helped greatly). If it’s my money and it’s for medical use, who the hell is the government (or, in this case, you) to tell me what I can or can not spend my money on?

    I’ve found HSAs very useful in the past. However, last fall I dumped it from my plan, as I didn’t want to deal with the bullshit paperwork that ObamaCare foisted on them. Tell me, what was the great abuses and pressing needs that needed to be “fixed” with that change?

    J.

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  85. jwest says:

    Steve,

    My plan has a government-run single payer system kicking in for major medical. The HSAs pay for routine care.

    You take (your) money out of your HSA account to pay for minor illnesses, checkups, a broken arm and any other foreseeable expense. This keeps the customer and the providers connected and informed as to the costs, encourages competition and brings value to the process.

    The single payer system comes into play when you hit a pre-set limit on your HSA or you have a major medical event that is unanticipated. Under this system, the government will pay providers under set guidelines. These rules would establish age/illness parameters which would determine if expensive treatments are allowed. If a 78 year old alcoholic male needs a liver transplant, it’s doubtful the guidelines would permit it. Naturally, no limit would be placed on general drugs.

    It’s the combination of the two systems that make it work. Either one without the other is bound to fail.

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  86. Hey Norm says:

    JT
    If it’s pre-tax money it’s regulated.
    What is deductible…in other words pre-tax…has always been regulated.
    Gee I wonder if I can use my HSA money on a trip to the islands…certainly a vacation would lower my BP.

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  87. wr says:

    jwest — Congratulations. You’ve just invented “death panels.” I’m sure your buddies on the right will go along with this.

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  88. Jeremy R says:

    The President can propose nothing new beyond his previous budget and still have it cutting deficits more than the Ryan plan over the next 10 years (because of Ryan’s front loaded tax cuts). Proposing, letting the tax cuts for the wealthiest expire will put him even further ahead of Ryan.

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  89. Hey Norm says:

    If Obama doesn’t propose that I pay into Medicare for ten years before they abolish it, he wins.
    If we’re going to trash the program let’s trash it.

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  90. Southern Hoosier says:

    michael reynolds says: Monday, April 11, 2011 at 14:21
    jwest:

    I’m used to being the smartest guy in the room. It’s the cross I bear.

    You must either spend a lot of time alone.

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  91. Michael Reynolds says:

    Question for anyone who feels like fielding it. Is it possible that our assumptions about future medical spending are overstated? Is it possible that the coming generation of old farts – I include myself – may stay healthier longer thanks to reduced levels of smoking, cheap cholesterol drugs, more immunizations and so on?

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  92. steve says:

    “Is it possible that the coming generation of old farts – I include myself – may stay healthier longer thanks to reduced levels of smoking, cheap cholesterol drugs, more immunizations and so on?”

    Possible, but not likely. The trend has been towards more expensive treatments for more marginal results. The device makers, thing AICD, pacemakers and total joints, have become quite good at turning out new products yearly with minimal improvements. Marketing has also become very good at what they do in advertising to docs and to patients. Also, I think the gains from less smoking are offset by the obesity increase.

    Steve

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  93. Southern Hoosier says:

    Michael Reynolds says: Monday, April 11, 2011 at 20:57
    may stay healthier longer thanks to reduced levels of smoking, cheap cholesterol drugs, more immunizations and so on?

    Good question. There are a lot of health issues in old age that are not associated with disease that are preventable. Alzheimer’s disease being one of them.

    Alzheimer’s worsens over time. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, where symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.

    There are nearly 15 million Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers providing 17 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $202 billion

    http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp
    The more physically robust the Alzheimer’s patient is the more difficult they are to take care of and the longer they live.

    Then there are genetic problems that can’t be treated that cause problems as we grow older. There are also environmental factors beyond our control that effect our health. Even if we spend less on healthcare each year, we have more years to spend it on. As a general rule 10% of our heath care cost is spent in our last year of life.

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  94. Jay Tea says:

    Norm, you got anything besides your little fantasy anecdote that HSAs were being abused? Hell, that wasn’t even the official rationale — it was to get more money from people by making HSAs less useful. They didn’t like the idea of people keeping more of their own money, so they crippled the program by imposing an external fee — the doctor’s charges — to cut into their usefulness.

    In the process, they increased the burdens on doctors, who now find themselves having to either write prescriptions for things like Pepto Bismol, hydrogen peroxide, Band-Aids, Ben-Gay, Sudafed, or take time explaining to patients that they won’t bother writing those prescriptions.

    It’s just another form of cost-shifting. Plus, people have grown too independent, thinking that the money that they earn is actually theirs and not the government’s, and they need to be taught a lesson. So the incredibly useful and sensible and practical HSAs had to be destroyed — because people have to be made to see how being responsible for themselves in any way is a Bad Thing.

    J.

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  95. Hey Norm says:

    The point wasn’t about fraud…it was that Ben gay is a silly use of health care money. But I dig your conspiracy theories a lot…”… They didn’t like the idea of people keeping more of their own money, so they crippled the program by imposing an external fee — the doctor’s charges — to cut into their usefulness…”. Hehehe
    Those damn liberals never like people keeping their own money…hehehe
    Thanks for a good laugh at the end of the day.

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  96. Southern Hoosier says:

    A quote attributed to Margaret Thatcher

    “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money [to spend].”

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  97. G.A. Phillips says:

    Man, what time is this crap on? I want t to see American Idol not some stupid commie puppet show:(

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  98. Kylopod says:

    A quote attributed to Margaret Thatcher

    “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money [to spend].”

    Here is another Thatcher quote:

    “I have no more intention of dismantling the National Health Service than I have of dismantling Britain’s defenses.”

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  99. anjin-san says:

    Here is another Thatcher quote:

    Yea, well these are the same folks who don’t seem to be aware of Reagan’s support of unions either. Guess Rush & Beck did not tell them about these little factoids.

    In the right wing utopia, there is much myopia…

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  100. Southern Hoosier says:

    Kylopod says: Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 00:12
    Here is another Thatcher quote:

    “I have no more intention of dismantling the National Health Service than I have of dismantling Britain’s defenses.”

    Could you give me a link to that quote?

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  101. Southern Hoosier says:

    anjin-san says: Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 00:41
    Here is another Thatcher quote:

    Yea, well these are the same folks who don’t seem to be aware of Reagan’s support of unions either. Guess Rush & Beck did not tell them about these little factoids.

    Reagan was the only president in American history to have belonged to a union, the AFL-CIO affiliated Screen Actors Guild. And he even served six terms as president of the organized labor group. Additionally, Reagan was a staunch advocate for the collective bargaining rights of one of the world’s most famous and most influential trade unions, Poland’s Solidarity movement…. December 23, 1981….

    http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2011/02/ronald-reagan-on-union-membership-as-one-of-the-most-elemental-human-rights.html
    Looks like he wanted the Commies to give their union collective bargaining rights. I think he was aware of what unions would do to the the Polish government. You should of gone with Nixon and his hardhat supporters.

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  102. Southern Hoosier says:

    anjin-san says:Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 00:41

    Here is another Thatcher quote:

    Yea, well these are the same folks who don’t seem to be aware of Reagan’s support of unions either. Guess Rush & Beck did not tell them about these little factoids.

    In the right wing utopia, there is much myopia…

    Tell me again how Reagan supported the air traffic controllers’ strike.

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  103. Kylopod says:

    >Could you give me a link to that quote?

    I already did.

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  104. Southern Hoosier says:

    “Kylopod says: Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 07:13
    >Could you give me a link to that quote?

    I already did.

    “I have no more intention of dismantling the National Health Service than I have of dismantling Britain’s defences”.[fo 63]

    Thanks! Found it. Next question do you know what [fo 63] is? Is that come kind of British footnote?

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  105. Andre Kenji says:

    ¨The model used in most Latin Americans countries, where there is a limited universal health care service provided by the government while there is incentives to people to go private would be pretty interesting in the US.

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  106. wr says:

    Wow. Yet another right winger dredges up the same Margaret Thatcher quote that every other right winger trumpets, as if simply repeating something you read on a bumper sticker will change anyone’s minds…

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  107. Kylopod says:

    >Next question do you know what [fo 63] is? Is that come kind of British footnote?

    No idea.

    >Yet another right winger dredges up the same Margaret Thatcher quote

    Interestingly, I couldn’t find any reference to it on Google News before 2009. And Google Books only returns five hits for it, all from books in 2010 or 2011.

    Here’s some helpful research on its origin:

    The eminent researcher Barry Popik has traced “It’s the Labour Government that have brought us record peace-time taxation. They’ve got the usual socialist disease — they’ve run out of other people’s money,” to a speech by Thatcher at a Conservative Party conference, Oct. 10, 1975.

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  108. anjin-san says:

    Reagan’s own words:

    “They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost. They remind us that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. You and I must protect and preserve freedom here or it will not be passed on to our children and it would disappear everywhere in the world. Today the workers in Poland are showing a new generation how high is the price of freedom but also how much it is worth that price.”`

    After his election, and less than month after firing the air-traffic controllers, Reagan didn’t back down from his support of organized labor. In a speech at a trade union gathering in Chicago in September 1981, he said,

    Collective bargaining in the years since has played a major role in America’s economic miracle. Unions represent some of the freest institutions in this land. There are few finer examples of participatory democracy to be found anywhere. Too often, discussion about the labor movement concentrates on disputes, corruption, and strikes. But while these things are headlines, there are thousands of good agreements reached and put into practice every year without a hitch.

    http://www.good.is/post/does-scott-walker-know-that-ronald-reagan-supported-unions-and-collective-bargaining/

    It’s ok. I doubt you are old enough to remember Reagan. But you should try and become informed.

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  109. anjin-san says:

    SH – I think what you are struggling with is the fact that people who were real conservatives, such as Reagan and Thatcher, tended to be a little more complicated than the cardboard cutouts that today’s “conservatives” seem to worship.

    BTW, I voted for Reagan twice.

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  110. G.A. Phillips says:

    When talking to a bumper sticker should you not speak bumper sticker, wr?

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  111. mantis says:

    Why isn’t the President responding to the Ryan Plan by reintroducing the Bowles-Simpson Plan?

    Apparently he is.

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  112. Steve Verdon says:

    We have not seen jevons’ paradox – we have seen consumption track gdp, which is a different pattern.

    With regards to health care…not hardly. Well okay, I guess if by tracking you mean something along the lines of GDP growth rate + some extra. Problem is with that is that both are increasingly geometrically with the latter starting out below the former, catching up and then surpassing it given a long enough time horizon.

    Here is a question: is health care a inferior, normal or superior good?

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