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Obama’s Meet the Press Interview

obama-bird

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most in recent weeks is that President Obama seems to have grown more of a spine. He’s still willing to compromise and has put forward good offers that the Republicans have rejected. He showed some of this during his interview on Meet the Press today:

OBAMA: “[A]t a certain point, if folks can’t say ‘yes’ to good offers, then I also have an obligation to the American people to make sure that the entire burden of deficit reduction doesn’t fall on seniors who are relying on Medicare. … The offers that I’ve made to them have been so fair that a lot of Democrats get mad at me. … I offered to make some significant changes to our entitlement programs … They [Republicans] say that their biggest priority is making sure that we deal with the deficit in a serious way. But the way they’re behaving is that their only priority is making sure that tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are protected. That seems to be their only overriding, unifying theme. …

He nailed this and I’m proud to hear him say it. Based on their behavior, the Republicans simply do not care about the deficit, rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding. For some reason, this transcript doesn’t seem to contain it, but Obama also pointed out that if the Congress doesn’t act within the next 48 hours (the interview was held on Saturday afternoon) then the Senate would introduce a bill that maintains the middle- and lower-class tax cuts while raising them on the wealthy. If the Senate rejects this, the first bill introduced in the new Congress will be a middle class tax cut.

I love hearing this. I still think the best outcome is to go over the cliff and introduce a bill that cuts taxes for households making less than $250,000. It will put the Republicans in a very awkward position if they vote against it. My fear of having a deal before the end of the year is that the president will give away too much; a $250,000 limit is more than fair.

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About Robert Prather
Robert Prather formerly blogged at the now defunct Insults Unpunished and, unlike his co-blogger Dodd, can not kill a mime using only his thumb. Follow him on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Exactly what entitlement sacrifices has Obama agreed to?

    He sure hasn’t made any of them public and his fellow Democrats resist every effort to save Social Security and Medicare from the inevitable fiscal and demographic bombs facing both programs.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 42

  2. He made an offer on chained CPI and Obamacare extends the life of the Medicare trust fund from 2016 to 2024. More needs to be done on Medicare and SS, but the Medicare proposals have been stupid (raising the eligibility age to 67). If they go beyond the chained CPI, they’ll get hanged. I would prefer that they just eliminate the cap on income subject to FICA taxes, in addition to the chained CPI thing.

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  3. @Robert Prather:

    And Democrats in the House and Senate already said that Chained CPI was DOA as far as they were concerned. Eventually, raising the eligibility age is exactly what we’ll have to do. Everything else is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

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  4. You mean raise the eligibility age for SS or Medicare. If I didn’t make it clear, I was referring to Medicare. As for SS, you and I will not be able to collect it until 67 anyway (it might be 67.5).

    Raising the eligibility age for Medicare is a horrible idea. It will take relatively healthy seniors (aged 65 and 66) and throw them onto the private market which is much more expensive than Medicare. And that’s for the ones who can get insurance at that age. Also, it doesn’t save much money. The number I saw was less than $250 billion over ten years. Horrible idea.

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  5. Tyrell says:

    “grown more of a spine”: this is good news to hear, especially with the growing threats from North Korea, Syria, Egypt, Russia, and Iran.
    Entitlements will never meaningfully be reformed or changed. The whole idea of any one being entitled to anything more than “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, which does not include other people’s money. The only group that is entitled would be our veterans and military who have given so much and get very little in return. The Congress and President will not tackle meaningful change regarding entitlements Billions of dollars yearly in medicare fraud, waste, and abuse: this money could go to the people who really need help.

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  6. Rafer Janders says:

    @Robert Prather:

    Also, it doesn’t save much money.

    Not only does it not save money, it actually costs more money overall. But I wouldn’t expect conservatives to understand math.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 3

  7. Andy says:

    I guess if one is a partisan Democrat this is great and if one is a partisan Republican then this is terrible and worthy of Rep. Boehner’s tears.

    For the rest of us who aren’t interested in keeping score between two political parties increasingly divorces from the reality of modern America (alas, we seem to be a minority, especially here as I’m sure all the incoming downvotes to this comment will attest), this is little more than a partisan political panty fight of little material consequence. Both parties are fighting over a what amounts to couple of percentage points (or fractions thereof) of spending and revenue and treating them as if the future of this country hinged on the outcome of this “battle.” Regardless of who comes out ahead politically, the fact is that any deal will not solve any of the fundamental problems our country faces and so it will simply be another kick of the can down a shortening road….

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 17

  8. Rafer Janders says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Eventually, raising the eligibility age is exactly what we’ll have to
    do.

    Trying again, without the blockquote fail:

    That’s typically idiotic and innumerate. Raising the eligibility age would substantially increase costs across the board, not lower them, as Medicare saves money when compared with relying on private insurance companies. Every $1 of direct federal money saved by raising the age — i.e., throwing a 66 year old off Medicare — is more than offset by about $2 in increased spending elsewhere in the system, which will have to be paid by employers, seniors themselves and their families, state governments, and higher premiums for non-seniors (as the private system is flooded with old sick people).

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  9. wr says:

    @Tyrell: “Billions of dollars yearly in medicare fraud, waste, and abuse: this money could go to the people who really need help. ”

    But you’ve just explained in your thoughtful way that no one is “entitled” to “other people’s money” except for veterans. So are you saying that we should be pulling money out of Medicare to give to veterans? Or by giving to people who really need help do you mean shovelling it to defense contractors and cutting taxes for billionaires?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 1

  10. Rafer Janders says:

    Here’s a good summary of some of the problems with increasing the Medicare eligibility age:

    And some of the money that the Medicare program might save would actually cost other parts of the federal government more. People earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for subsidies from the government under the ACA to help them afford coverage. If the Medicare eligibility age is increased, more federal subsidy money will be needed to help 65 and 66-year-olds buy policies. And that money will go straight to insurance companies, meaning that about the only people benefiting from this idea would be insurance company executives and shareholders.

    “Even with the subsidies, some seniors undoubtedly would forgo coverage and pay a penalty to the IRS as required by the ACA because of the hit their family budgets would take from buying insurance. Nearly 15 percent of people between 55 and 65 are currently uninsured, according to the Census Bureau. Many of 65 and 66-year-olds who otherwise would be on Medicare undoubtedly would remain uninsured if the eligibility age was raised.

    “But those folks would still get sick and need hospital care. Many of them wouldn’t be able to pay for that care, meaning the hospitals would have to pass along the cost of their care to people with private insurance. Those of us with private insurance already pay $1,000 a year more than we otherwise would because of this cost shifting.

    “Raising the eligibility age would also cost businesses more because they would have to continue providing coverage for employees who would not retire at 65 because they would not yet be eligible for Medicare. Some small businesses would stop offering coverage entirely because of the additional costs.

    “Every one of us would pay more in yet another way. Putting those 65 and 66-year-olds back in the private insurance pool would mean that everybody else in the pool would pay more for coverage. That’s because those older people would be more likely to need care than the rest of us. All of our premiums would go up.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wendell-potter/why-raising-the-medicare_b_2316027.html

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  11. john personna says:

    @Andy:

    As a former Republican and now independent, I disagree.

    I would welcome a Republican party fit to govern. For that they must be interested in governing. For that, apparently, they have to crash and burn first.

    Were that it not so … that they were actually putting a tax+spending proposal on the table, that works, and not playing the “but, but, but Obama must name the cuts” game.

    Doug, your repetition of the game is noted.

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  12. @Andy: it isn’t necessarily kicking the can down the road. Obamacare extended the life of Medicare and it also imposed cost controls. It would be prudent to wait a couple of years before acting boldly on Medicare reform to see if those cost controls work. If they work, the magnitude of the needed reforms might be smaller.

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  13. john personna says:

    (I mean seriously folks, how can it even be a rational idea that “liberals must name spending cuts,” and “conservatives can not name spending cuts, with specificity?”)

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  14. Andy says:

    @john personna: I don’t disagree with your assessment of the GoP. Perhaps the difference between us is that I don’t think the Democrats are fit to govern either.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 15

  15. Andy says:

    @Robert Prather:

    it isn’t necessarily kicking the can down the road. Obamacare extended the life of Medicare and it also imposed cost controls. It would be prudent to wait a couple of years before acting boldly on Medicare reform to see if those cost controls work. If they work, the magnitude of the needed reforms might be smaller.

    You’ve got to be kidding. Even Obamacare’s biggest supporters realize that it doesn’t do much to control healthcare costs. There is no question that we, as a country, will be forced to deal with the imbalance between Medicare costs and revenues in the not-too-distant future.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 22

  16. anjin-san says:

    the inevitable fiscal and demographic bombs facing both programs.

    Conflating SS & Medicare is BS, plain and simple. Another “From the Fox newsroom to Doug’s keyboard” moment…

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  17. Rafer Janders says:

    @Andy:

    Perhaps the difference between us is that I don’t think the Democrats are fit to govern either.

    Bold! Contrarian! An independent thinker! There’s no pulling the wool over your eyes, boy! You may not be part of the solution, but this ensures you can never be part of the problem!

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  18. @Andy: The Medicare trust fund is funded through 2024. Why must we deal with it soon? Also, I don’t believe you on your assertion that “[e]ven Obamacare’s biggest supporters realize that it doesn’t do much to control healthcare costs.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

  19. Andy says:

    @john personna:

    (I mean seriously folks, how can it even be a rational idea that “liberals must name spending cuts,” and “conservatives can not name spending cuts, with specificity?”)

    Well yes, each side wants the other side to name the cuts in order to create soundbites for the next election cycle.

    Benefit cuts are tough politically and what will have to happen is that both sides will have to jump off that cliff together. Is either side willing to do that right now? Not that I can see – it’s still all about tactical partisan advantage which is good for the partisans, but bad for the nation….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 14

  20. anjin-san says:

    @ Tyrell

    other people’s money

    I’ve been paying into the system for 35 years. So yes, I feel “entitled” to get a benefit from the system at some point (probably after paying in for another 15-20 years). Is that what you mean by “entitlement”?

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  21. @Andy: great another “a pox on both their houses” response. The Democrats aren’t perfect, but at least they take governing seriously. So far, the House GOP has hurt our credit rating through the debt fiasco and been obstinate with regard to any tax hikes whatsoever. There’s a mile of difference between the Ds and Rs.

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  22. Argon says:

    Hell. We could stop pissing money away in Afghanistan and not even think of doing something even dumber like getting pulled into a conflict with Iran by some nutcases in Israel (aka the current head of their government), and dimwitted US neocons. That would save us bundles of $$$, as would ramping down military expenditures. We could also raise the ceiling on the level of income subject to SS withholding. Finally, we could enact single payer healthcare and knock out the middlemen in payments.

    And we still haven’t touch the surface on how intelligently managing the repair and creation of better infrastructure pay dividends for years to come.

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  23. john personna says:

    @Andy:

    Shouldn’t in an adversarial system the liberals argue for spending and the conservatives for cuts?

    It is the idea that conservatives cast off the responsibility that perplexes.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  24. Andy says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Bold! Contrarian! An independent thinker! There’s no pulling the wool over your eyes, boy! You may not be part of the solution, but this ensures you can never be part of the problem!

    Ah yes, the predictable, patronizing and belittling snark for anyone who fails to fit into a convenient ideological box….

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  25. Argon says:

    The Medicare trust fund has been on the ‘brink of bankruptcy within 10-20 years’ for at least 40 years now.

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  26. Rafer Janders says:

    @Andy:

    No, it’s a very common ideological box you’re in. It’s the same box that Mataconis and Joyner inhabit, the “both sides do it / it’s not my fault / I’ll float here blameless while everyone else gets their hands dirty” box.

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  27. Rafer Janders says:

    Based on their behavior, the Republicans simply do not care about the deficit, rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding.

    Anyone who claims to care about the deficit should love the fiscal cliff — it raises taxes and cuts spending, thereby driving down the deficit. For years now conservatives have been bleating “austerity now!”, but once it’s actually here, for some reason they don’t want it anymore.

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  28. @Argon:

    The Medicare trust fund has been on the ‘brink of bankruptcy within 10-20 years’ for at least 40 years now.

    I largely agree with your comment, but this time will be different due to the baby boomer retirement. We still have time to think about it, but any changes / reforms will be more significant than in the past.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  29. Andy says:

    @Robert Prather:

    The Medicare trust fund is funded through 2024. Why must we deal with it soon?

    What we have to deal with is medical costs more generally. As for Medicare, if we know the system will go insolvent, why would we wait to implement fixes? The longer we wait, the few options we’ll have and the more it will cost.

    great another “a pox on both their houses” response. The Democrats aren’t perfect, but at least they take governing seriously. So far, the House GOP has hurt our credit rating through the debt fiasco and been obstinate with regard to any tax hikes whatsoever. There’s a mile of difference between the Ds and Rs.

    As I said, I’m not that interested in who is worse – all that amounts to is keeping score, a justification for supporting one side over the other. I’m not hindered by any loyalty to either party and I’m not invested in seeing either succeed at the expense of the other. I’m interested in long-term solutions to this country’s growing set of problems and IMO neither party is currently up to the task of providing a coherent solution, much less a coherent solution that considers anyone outside their narrow interest groups….

    @john personna:

    Shouldn’t in an adversarial system the liberals argue for spending and the conservatives for cuts?

    It is the idea that conservatives cast off the responsibility that perplexes.

    You’re right that it is perplexing about the GoP – they are, no doubt, a complete basket-case.

    As far as the adversarial system, I agree, but that doesn’t seem to be the way things work now. And which party is for government reform and better governance? What about value for our tax dollars? It’s all about chasing money and tactical victories, not about vision or strategy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

  30. Herb says:

    Hmm…let’s see…raise the eligibility age or raise taxes. Betcha if there was a proposal to do both, Republicans will still say NO.

    As the president says, “their only priority is making sure that tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are protected.”

    Well, now that their goal of making sure Obama was a one-termer has been mooted.

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  31. Andy says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    No, that is your misperception. Yours is a typical response in that you think you are the expert on me and where I fit in the world. BTW, your comparison to Joyner and Maconis are way off…..

    I am not “floating blameless” – I simply don’t think solutions to our country’s problems can emerge from the two present political parties. If one doesn’t think the Democrats or GoP can solve the nation’s problems, then what would be your advice? Settle for the lesser evil?

    I will do what I can in my own small way by advocating for the things I think are important and criticizing what I think are bad or non-solutions. I don’t need to identify with either party to do that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 15

  32. Rafer Janders says:

    @Andy:

    As for Medicare, if we know the system will go insolvent, why would we wait to implement fixes?

    How can Medicare go insolvent unless the US government in its entirety does? I’ll leave it to James Surowiecki to explain:

    The image of empty coffers is a powerful one: half of all Americans aged between eighteen and twenty-nine don’t think that Social Security will exist when they retire. That’s a bizarre thing to believe about an important government program. No one ever says, “I don’t think the U.S. Army will be there when I get old” or talks about the Defense Department “going broke.” We assume that there will always be a need for the military, and that we’ll end up paying the taxes that are necessary to fund it. But, because Social Security and Medicare have always been self-supporting, it’s easy to believe that they’ll just vanish if the trust funds dry up. This isn’t the case. Relatively minor tweaks to Social Security will allow it to keep paying full benefits for many decades. And, if we wanted, we could supplement funding for both programs with general government revenue. That’s what most European countries do, and, indeed, parts of Medicare are already paid for out of general revenue. The only way that Social Security and Medicare can go “bankrupt” is if we let them.

    Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/talk/financial/2012/12/24/121224ta_talk_surowiecki#ixzz2GYvrOUiR

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  33. Rafer Janders says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Eventually, raising the eligibility age is exactly what we’ll have to do

    From the same Surowiecki article I just quoted above, a very good explanation of the failure of the “raise the Medicare age!” solution:

    You can see that in the current debate over the proposal to raise the age of Medicare eligibility from sixty-five to sixty-seven, a proposal that, some have suggested, President Obama may agree to as part of a fiscal-cliff deal. This is not a good idea: though it would save taxpayers close to six billion dollars a year, it would raise over-all health-care spending by more than eleven billion dollars a year, according to an estimate by the Kaiser Family Foundation. (That’s because Medicare is better at holding down costs than private insurance, and because the out-of-pocket costs for ineligible seniors would rise.) Sure, it would extend the life of Medicare, but that’s meaningless on its own: you could extend the life of Medicare indefinitely if you restricted it to people over eighty-five, but that doesn’t mean it’s smart to do so. Only an obsession with the trust fund makes kicking people off Medicare seem like a rational approach to our health-care problems.

    Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/talk/financial/2012/12/24/121224ta_talk_surowiecki#ixzz2GYwBrUNl

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  34. michael reynolds says:

    Yes, the problem here is that the Republicans are absent. They repeat their one and only ideological talking point: no taxes on the rich. And that’s all they’ve got. What cuts do they want? They won’t say. How do they plan to deal with the deficit? They won’t say.

    None of this should be surprising to anyone. Democrats have been saying for four years that the GOP is effectively nihilist. They have no plan for the future, they have no ideas, they have nothing except: cut taxes for our rich overlords. Which is particularly bizarre given that “the rich” don’t particularly object to going back to the Clinton rates under which we thrived.

    So now the GOP isn’t even serving the rich. They’re serving the shell of an idea. They bet everything they had on 1) The Supremes killing Obamacare and 2) Romney beating Obama. Failing that they’re left praying for the economic destruction of the United States.

    If the GOP was a dog we’d put it down for it’s own sake.

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  35. Andy says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    And, if we wanted, we could supplement funding for both programs with general government revenue. That’s what most European countries do, and, indeed, parts of Medicare are already paid for out of general revenue. The only way that Social Security and Medicare can go “bankrupt” is if we let them.

    Well, duh. But the money that will come from the general fund has to come from somewhere and there are only a few sources: It can come from cuts to other programs, it can come from increased tax revenue, it can come (for a while at least) from borrowing, or it can come by printing money. Another problem is that health care costs are increasing faster than inflation. That means that rising costs will eventually outstrip any revenue stream. That’s a big reason why FICA isn’t enough going into the future.

    How do we control costs so that they rise with inflation? How to we achieve a balance between revenues and spending for Medicare and SS? Surowiecki makes it all sound so easy, as if it was merely a question of will. In reality, it’s not so easy – if it were, Obamacare would have tackled these issues. Difficult choices cannot be avoided forever.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 10

  36. mattb says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Yes, the problem here is that the Republicans are absent.

    It’s actually worse than that. It isn’t that the Republicans are absent. God, that could be worked with. The problem is that the Republican’s are obstructively present without anything to drive that obstruction but partisanship masquerading as ideology.

    And the fact is that this behavior is (a) demonstratively measurable (the problem with the “pox on both your houses” is that one side is currently clearly at fault), and has been proven time and time again in poli sci studies, (b) won’t change in the forseeable future due to the current state of American Electoral politics (See Steven’s excellent article).

    As long as the Republican Party is only interested in maintaining short term political power, there is no incentive for them to back track from their current position. Which means we’re all of the crazy train for the foreseeable future.

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  37. john personna says:

    @Andy:

    And which party is for government reform and better governance? What about value for our tax dollars? It’s all about chasing money and tactical victories, not about vision or strategy.

    Obviously the Democrats are there to protect the poor, and then do double duty when they back both reform and better government. (Reform & Fiscal Responsibility at the White House)

    Again, there is something odd here even in your demand.

    Do you require Democrats to do more on reform because you know Republicans will not?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  38. john personna says:

    The whole idea that “Obama must name cuts” is abandonment of the conservative mission. If cuts are available, with public support, it would be a big win for Republicans to name them. The only reason not to name them would be if they think they don’t in fact have public support.

    Think about that.

    If the Republicans know that cuts do not have public support then it takes their whole Kabuki to the highest level. It is a play in which they sing of cuts, knowing they will never vote them, because the public will never accept them.

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  39. Just Me says:

    When it comes to medicare I would rather see them raise taxes on wealthier taxpayers than raise the eligibility age. I am not really a huge fan of raising eligibility age for social security-mostly because while a white collar 65 year old can probably work about 5 or more years, a blue collar guy might not have the health to do so.

    I think means testing social security would be a workable solution-but one that would be a tough sell and political suicide.

    I am not really convinced the democrats are all that serious either-I think at this point both sides are looking for ways to score political points than find real, concrete answers or a real willingness to do the hard things that might come with some political hits.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  40. Terrye says:

    Spine??? Obama has not shown any spine…tell me any specific changes he has actually talked about when it comes to entitlement programs? He has thrown his weight around, crammed a new entitlement program down our throats and spent money…the only thing he has shown any real talent for is evading responsibility. But then again, I doubt that history will be as forgiving as the slobbering media.

    The only thing he seems to care about is getting his way and piling up debt and even if Republicans relent on this tax increase it will be about 84 billion in revenue compared to deficits in excess of a trillion. If you are proud of him for promoting that fiction as if it were actually true then all I can say is I do not value your opinion all that much.

    BTW, if we go over this cliff Obama will be happy. He will be happy with higher taxes for everyone and record numbers of Americans on welfare and food stamps…and you will be there to kiss his behind.

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  41. @Andy:

    Another problem is that health care costs are increasing faster than inflation. That means that rising costs will eventually outstrip any revenue stream.

    That’s what the Obamacare cost controls are for. We need to see if they work.

    A nitpick:

    That’s a big reason why FICA isn’t enough going into the future.

    FICA is for Social Security, the Medicare tax is for, well, Medicare.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  42. anjin-san says:

    Eventually, raising the eligibility age is exactly what we’ll have to do.

    So what happens to the folks who are not yet eligible, yet can’t find work due to age discrimination?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  43. @Just Me:

    I am not really a huge fan of raising eligibility age for social security-mostly because while a white collar 65 year old can probably work about 5 or more years, a blue collar guy might not have the health to do so.

    Very true. That, and the fact that people my age (mid 40s) will retire at 67 under existing law anyway. It doesn’t need to be raised more.

    On your other point about means testing, one of the reasons it won’t happen, in addition to being political suicide, one of the reasons it commands such strong support is that it is seen as “for everyone.” If you means test it, it becomes just another welfare program and it will lose support for that reason.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  44. al-Ameda says:

    Republicans are willing to do it again: force a degradation in the rating of American debt in order to leverage their demand for spending reductions. This is a tactic that will again cause the loss of billions of dollars in Americans’ investments – not only individuals with private retirement accounts, but institutional investors where companies and public agencies place investments.

    Republicans are not interested in governing.

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  45. @Terrye: the deficit is high for one principal reason: the economy is still growing too slowly. That, along with the Bush tax cuts, has caused revenues to reach a 60-year low as a percentage of GDP. Most of the recent spending has been either on time, like the stimulus, or due to high unemployment, like food stamps and an expanded need for Medicaid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  46. @al-Ameda: nor are they interested in growth. All we get from them is stupid (and false) bromides like “we don’t have a taxing problem, we have a spending problem.”

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  47. Tyrell says:

    @john personna: Historians and my memory is that President Reagan did not actually cut the Federal government, just the rate of growth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  48. Ben Wolf says:

    @Terrye: Deficits have fallen further, faster over the last four years than at any other point in our history. If the national debt is such a bother to you then you should be praising the President.

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  49. Andy says:

    @john personna:

    Sure, everyone backs reform and better government in theory. Few follow through though. That’s a nice website, but what’s actually been accomplished? Granted, the President has made some positive marginal changes in a few areas, but it is nowhere what is needed. Transparency hasn’t been near what was promised either. Besides, real reform requires Congressional action and Congress doesn’t seem at all interested except for “reforms” that are primarily designed to squeeze dollars to pad CBO scores – in other words, it’s still all about the money.

    Again, there is something odd here even in your demand.

    Do you require Democrats to do more on reform because you know Republicans will not?

    I’m not demanding anything of anyone, though I would like to see both parties embrace government reform on a much larger scale. Take the DoD. IMO we need something on the scale of the 1947 NSA. We are still operating with a system built for and industrial-era cold war. Who is interested in that kind of reform? Neither party, that’s for sure, they are too invested in the status quo.

    @Robert Prather

    That’s what the Obamacare cost controls are for. We need to see if they work.

    Obamacare’s principle purpose was to extend medical coverage to the uninsured, not control medical care costs. And the cost controls were only added in order to meet the revenue and spending targets, which were themselves arbitrary. The growth in costs is an issue that will have to be dealt with in the future (and the sooner the better) – if there is someone with any credibility out there who seriously argues that the controls in Obamacare will obviate the need for any further reform in Medicare, much less health care costs more generally, then please enlighten me and provide a link.

    Here’s the CBPP (emphasis mine):

    Nonetheless, Medicare faces serious financing challenges in order to make the Hospital Insurance trust fund solvent over the long term and to reduce unsustainable federal budget deficits that are driven in part by Medicare’s rising costs. Major reforms in health care payment and delivery will be essential throughout the U.S. health care system, and Medicare will need to play an important role in leading the way to those reforms. A first step, however, should be to “do not harm” — that is, not make Medicare’s financing challenges even greater. Repealing the Affordable Care Act would do exactly that.

    Here’s the CAP:

    The Affordable Care Act extends the life of Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, which finances inpatient hospital services, post-acute care, and other services for Medicare enrollees. Previously Medicare’s trustees expected the fund to be depleted by 2017, but Obamacare—by keeping costs under control and paying for coverage in a sustainable way—extends its life until at least 2024.

    Both are liberal think-tanks who are very supportive of Obamacare. Even assuming the projected cost savings are actually realized, the Obamacare reforms will have a limited effect on costs and Medicare’s fiscal sustainability.

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  50. Rafer Janders says:

    @Andy:

    I’m not hindered by any loyalty to either party and I’m not invested in seeing either succeed at the expense of the other

    In a representative democracy in a two-party system, all that this ensures is that no one needs to care about your vote. If you’re not part of any constituency other than your Party of One, then you are not part of any group that can bring pressure to bear. You have no influence, so no one will care what you want done.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  51. @Rafer Janders: what you said. I voted a straight Democratic ticket this year for the first time in my life. I won’t even vote for a Republican I like because it empowers the loons on the far right.

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  52. Andy says:

    @Rafer Janders: It seems to me we have at least the same amount of influence – we can both vote, we can both write our representatives and make our views known to them, we can both exercise our first amendment rights, etc. The difference is that I don’t need to “look the other way” when my party does something beyond the pale. I don’t need to make excuses for the failings of my party by pointing out how much worse the other party is.

    And the political parties themselves would disagree with you. I am in a swing state and am, by definition, a swing voter. I had near constant calls from both sides trying to get me to vote for their candidates. I made sure they both knew I was independent and I made sure to tell them what I thought was wrong with their candidate and ideology. A partisan is arguably less relevant because they are already “in the bag” – all the party apparatus needs to do is get them to the polls.

    How much influence do you really have in your party? How much can you actually affect those things your party does that you don’t like? I think the reality is that they take you for granted – all they’ve got to do is ensure that you won’t vote for the GoP or a Ralph Nader which is easy enough, isn’t it?

    The thing is, I would like to join a party. I’m not out here because I want to be special or different. I’m jealous of parliamentary systems. I fantasize about third parties but I understand it will never happen. I’ve just come to the conclusion that trying to reform either party from the inside is not going to work. I’m not willing to compromise my values to try.

    Finally, there may be a two party system, but their certainly is no requirement that people must identify with one or the other. Partisan fealty is certainly not a requirement for any citizen in our system and I will make no apologies for not joining, nor for my criticisms of partisanship and partisan ideology.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

  53. Rafer Janders says:

    @Robert Prather:

    If, for example, I’m a Democratic politician, and I’m faced by a voter who tells me “I’m not invested in seeing you succeed”, then guess what? That’s a voter I can comfortably ignore. I can’t count on his support, he could as conceivably support my opponent as support me, so I’m not going to waste my time making him happy.

    If, however, I’m faced with a voter who says “I’m not only invested in seeing you succeed, I demand that you succeed,I will live and die with you, and here’s ten thousand other voters in my group who agree with me”, then I’m going to start paying some attention.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  54. anjin-san says:

    @Terrye

    Obama has flattened spending. Don’t listen to me, listen to Forbes:

    Who Is The Smallest Government Spender Since Eisenhower? Would You Believe It’s Barack Obama?

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2012/05/24/who-is-the-smallest-government-spender-since-eisenhower-would-you-believe-its-barack-obama/

    I thought the election might show folks on the right the dangers of having a political world view based entirely on right wing talking points. Guess I was wrong.

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  55. @Rafer Janders: I think you’re overstating things a bit, but I largely agree with you. I can’t bring myself to vote for a Republican, no matter how good he is, because he will caucus with other Republicans.

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  56. Laurence Bachmann says:

    @Doug Mataconis: You asked what concessions Obama made. When you get an answer you don’t like you then talk about Congressional Democrats. The democratic party is not and has never been a monolith. Obama has made concessions. Whether they will be implemented is yet to be determined.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  57. bill says:

    sounds like more of the same old “it’s their fault” bs we’ve been hearing for 4 yrs already. not at all “presidential” and pretty embarrassing for such a feared leader of the free world.
    he made the same mistake that George 1 made with his insisting that he raise taxes on “the wealthy ($250k+crowd)”…. now he’s going to have to redo that, not like his followers have a problem with anything he does already but some media wonks might hold him to it- while gushing over his brilliance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

  58. Andy says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    That’s a novel theory. How, then, do you explain why politicians pander to the base during primaries and then “evolve” to the center for the general election? I think you have it backwards actually – politicians will try to get support where they can.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  59. Andy says:

    @Robert Prather:

    I can’t bring myself to vote for a Republican, no matter how good he is, because he will caucus with other Republicans.

    That’s kind of proves my point. So what would the Democrats have to do to lose your vote?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  60. Spartacus says:

    @Andy:

    If one doesn’t think the Democrats or GoP can solve the nation’s problems, then what would be your advice? Settle for the lesser evil?

    Please tell us how it is possible not to settle for “the lesser of two evils.” There are only two options available; whether you vote for either or neither, you are taking an action that can only hurt one and help the other – particularly in a swing state.

    Obamacare’s principle purpose was to extend medical coverage to the uninsured, not control medical care costs. And the cost controls were only added in order to meet the revenue and spending targets, which were themselves arbitrary.

    First of all, it is undeniable that the CBO has predicted that the ACA will lower the deficit. That is a very good thing and not a single GOPer voted for it.
    Secondly, the overwhelming majority of cost controls in the ACA had no impact on the healthcare costs since the CBO couldn’t score the cost controls because they were all new. That is why Robert Prather keeps telling you we have to wait a few years to see what impact they have.
    Lastly, why should it matter WHY Obama put in the cost controls? None of us can read his mind and the only thing that matters is that they’re in there.

    The growth in costs is an issue that will have to be dealt with in the future (and the sooner the better) – if there is someone with any credibility out there who seriously argues that the controls in Obamacare will obviate the need for any further reform in Medicare, much less health care costs more generally, then please enlighten me and provide a link.

    No one has argued this – not even Obama. In fact he’s said more must be done. The question is which party is more likely to make the necessary changes while still protecting beneficiaries?
    The ideal GOP plan is to do away with Medicare and replace it with a coupon program. OTOH, many Dems wanted, at a minimum, a public option which would have substantially reduced costs.
    Your apparent inability to recognize these differences between the parties and the real-world effect they have on public policy suggests it may be worthwhile for you to become more engaged with the parties.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  61. An Interested Party says:

    I am not “floating blameless” – I simply don’t think solutions to our country’s problems can emerge from the two present political parties. If one doesn’t think the Democrats or GoP can solve the nation’s problems, then what would be your advice? Settle for the lesser evil?

    Umm, in the absence of a third party achieving some kind of power, of course we have to settle for “the lesser of two evils”…no offense, but this idea of “taking my toys and going home” doesn’t really help matters either, it only makes others think that you think that you are floating blameless above it all…

    But then again, I doubt that history will be as forgiving as the slobbering media.

    The Victimhood Tour returns to OTB…

    He will be happy with higher taxes for everyone and record numbers of Americans on welfare and food stamps…and you will be there to kiss his behind.

    Do you really believe that any president would actually want record numbers of Americans on welfare and food stamps? Really? Surely you can’t be that stupid…

    Obama has flattened spending.

    Indeed…an argument has been made that the recovery has been anemic precisely because the government hasn’t spent money like in previous successful recoveries, yet the President is still painted as some kind of “socialist” by the usual loons on the right…

    - while gushing over his brilliance.

    Yet more victimization…I wonder if these people whined as much before Fox News existed…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  62. Herb says:

    @bill:

    “not at all “presidential” and pretty embarrassing for such a feared leader of the free world.”

    Embarrassing? No, embarrassing is “47%” and “Obama did it” when it comes to Benghazi.

    So what would the Democrats have to do to lose your vote?

    A) Invade a country that didn’t attack us.
    B) Push for homophobic legislation
    C) Pursue semi-racist polices against Hispanics (papers, please) and blacks (voter ID)
    D) Bust unions when 1) there’s no need and 2) union membership is at an historical low
    E) Sort the country into “Real Americans” and not, the 47% percent of moochers, rural/urban, or any other way

    I could go on….but first I should ask:

    Why vote Republican?

    Seriously. They squandered their foreign policy advantage. Their domestic agenda is incredibly narrow, unpopular, and divisive. Just look at the Tea Party. The GOP is a party in disarray. They need major reform.

    Rewarding them with electoral victories is just foolish at this point. That’s not just my opinion. That’s the opinion of a majority of voters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  63. Andy says:

    @Spartacus:

    Ok, a lot to dissect here:

    Please tell us how it is possible not to settle for “the lesser of two evils.” There are only two options available; whether you vote for either or neither, you are taking an action that can only hurt one and help the other – particularly in a swing state.

    True as far as it goes. That doesn’t address my point you quoted however.

    First of all, it is undeniable that the CBO has predicted that the ACA will lower the deficit. That is a very good thing and not a single GOPer voted for it.

    That the prediction was made is undeniably true – never said otherwise. Whether it materializes and whether that is, in fact, “a really good thing” remains to be seen.

    Secondly, the overwhelming majority of cost controls in the ACA had no impact on the healthcare costs since the CBO couldn’t score the cost controls because they were all new. That is why Robert Prather keeps telling you we have to wait a few years to see what impact they have.

    Yet everyone knows that more cost controls will be required. Everyone knows the Obamacare controls are, at best, insufficient and even there they only affect Medicare. That’s true even if the PPACA controls prove to be wildly successful in reality. Mr. Prather, unless I’ve misunderstood him, would have us wait to fix a problem that everyone understands remains despite Obamacare. I disagree.

    Lastly, why should it matter WHY Obama put in the cost controls? None of us can read his mind and the only thing that matters is that they’re in there.

    Strictly speaking, he didn’t put them in since Congressional Democrats wrote the bill. But he did impose some of the arbitrary limits that Congress had to work around. As for why it matters, I’m simply pointing out that our politicians don’t implement “cost controls” to fix underlying problems, like rising health care costs. They do so in order to offset spending in other areas.

    No one has argued this – not even Obama. In fact he’s said more must be done.

    Well, haven’t I been saying “more must be done” to Mr. Prather all along?

    The question is which party is more likely to make the necessary changes while still protecting beneficiaries?

    That’s the question if you’re a partisan looking to justify a pre-selected course of action. The reality is that neither party will be able to impose its own solution, so your question is irrelevant.

    The ideal GOP plan is to do away with Medicare and replace it with a coupon program. OTOH, many Dems wanted, at a minimum, a public option which would have substantially reduced costs.

    For the record I don’t like the Ryan plan. However, I don’t share your faith regarding the efficacy of a public option.

    IMO these are the two most important things we need to do to reform our healthcare system:

    1. Get employers out of the healthcare business.
    2. Replace fee-for-service with a better compensation model.

    Your apparent inability to recognize these differences between the parties and the real-world effect they have on public policy suggests it may be worthwhile for you to become more engaged with the parties.

    Contrary to your assertion I do recognize differences between the parties – it’s just that I think both adhere to bankrupt ideologies and so the differences don’t matter very much given the challenges we face as a nation.

    Have you read “Washington Rules” by Bacevich? That would be a good start….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  64. Andy says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Umm, in the absence of a third party achieving some kind of power, of course we have to settle for “the lesser of two evils”…no offense, but this idea of “taking my toys and going home” doesn’t really help matters either, it only makes others think that you think that you are floating blameless above it all…

    Except as I’ve said, I’m not taking my toys and going home. I’m engaged politically. I’m here an on other blogs debating. I engage with my elected representatives. I even vote! That said, the current parties aren’t worth defending IMO. Their platforms aren’t worth defending either. I think their ideas are bankrupt and their living in the past. Pointing that out and refusing to support one or the other is not “floating blameless” – it’s my way to try to change what I believe to be a broken system. I hope the parties reform themselves. If not I hope they go the way of the Whigs to be replaced my modern and coherent alternatives.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  65. Andy says:

    @Herb:

    A) Invade a country that didn’t attack us.

    Interesting list, is it all inclusive? So, is a foreign war for regime change without Congressional authorization ok in your book? As i recall, that was not a “war” but a “time limited, scope limited military action.” Is killing American citizens abroad based on executive order ok with you? I seem to remember Democrats complaining about executive power under Bush – few seem to complain now. Why is that? Military tribunals – not even in the news anymore. If any of these were done by a Republican President would you be cutting them any slack?

    To me, that is the problem with partisanship today. It undermines moral integrity which people justify by saying the other side is worse. Well, for me, I’m not able to make those compromises.

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  66. Herb says:

    @Andy:

    “Interesting list, is it all inclusive?”

    No, there’s more. I’d add their animosity to public sector workers and their shilling for certain Christian denominations in the guise of “religious freedom.” (To me, “religious freedom” means telling the Catholic Church they don’t get to make policy, but that’s just me.) I listed a few. That was sufficient for my point.

    So, is a foreign war for regime change without Congressional authorization ok in your book?

    Libya? I shed no tears for Gaddafi. In fact, I’m glad we were able to assist in taking him down with little cost to ourselves. Ask Congress for authorization? This Congress? Oh well that didn’t happen.

    Is killing American citizens abroad based on executive order ok with you?

    Al-Awaki? First….let’s not say American citizens. Has there been another? Secondly, Al-Awaki held dual citizenship, and it’s quite clear from where he lived, who he associated with, and what he was doing that he himself didn’t consider himself an American citizen. No tears for him either.

    I’m no hawk, but I am a patriot. If you’re a terrorist plotting against the US, watch the skies for drones until we figure out a better way to kill you. Them’s the breaks.

    “I seem to remember Democrats complaining about executive power under Bush – few seem to complain now. “

    Oh, they complain. It’s just that they have less to complain about.

    If the Bin Laden raid had happened in ’02 or ’03, they would have complained less during Bush’s tenure as well.

    Bottom line for me is that Obama’s foreign policy isn’t perfect (which policy is?) but it’s an improvement.

    Care to discuss any of the other stuff? The anti-gay stuff? The racism? The enmity towards labor? The endless sorting of the “good” Americans from the “bad?” I’m not a one-issue kind of guy….

    And that’s why I can’t support the GOP. Not this one. Some theoretical one in the future when they get their stuff together…..maybe. But it depends on what they do. Tax cuts for millionaires won’t cut it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  67. Ben Wolf says:

    @Andy:

    To me, that is the problem with partisanship today. It undermines moral integrity which people justify by saying the other side is worse. Well, for me, I’m not able to make those compromises.

    There are things that should never be defended or accepted, no matter who is pushing for them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  68. @Andy:

    That’s kind of proves my point. So what would the Democrats have to do to lose your vote?

    It doesn’t prove your point at all. I simply have a different strategy than you. I don’t think I’ve criticized your independence.

    In order to lose my vote, Democrats would have to deny science (global warming, evolution), embrace farcical economics ideas, and be loons. Basically, become Tea Partiers.

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  69. @Spartacus:

    Secondly, the overwhelming majority of cost controls in the ACA had no impact on the healthcare costs since the CBO couldn’t score the cost controls because they were all new.

    Great comment. This snippet above needed to be said and I forgot. CBO can’t score things that are new and untried. They also can’t use “dynamic scoring” which shows rapid economic growth after tax cuts because it’s false. For the scores to be reliable they have to stick with verifiable assertions.

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  70. @An Interested Party:

    Do you really believe that any president would actually want record numbers of Americans on welfare and food stamps? Really? Surely you can’t be that stupid…

    He can be. It’s GOP orthodoxy that the government is trying to foster dependence. It makes no sense, but they believe it.

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  71. @Herb:

    Why vote Republican?

    Seriously. They squandered their foreign policy advantage. Their domestic agenda is incredibly narrow, unpopular, and divisive. Just look at the Tea Party. The GOP is a party in disarray. They need major reform.

    The odd thing is, Obama’s foreign policy is basically second term George Bush (or Bush the Elder) anf they still gripe about him.

    You’re right, their domestic agenda is off the rails. In 2011 they wanted to make the Bush tax cuts permanent as part of a DEFICIT REDUCTION DEAL! They’re idiots.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  72. Spartacus says:

    @Andy:

    That doesn’t address my point you quoted however.

    I believe the point you were making is that neither party party is solving the nation’s problems, to which I’ve advised you to support the party and the candidates that are either doing more to solve the problems or are doing less to make the problems worse. If someone seriously believes that at this point in time both parties are equally harmful to the country, then that person is either very uninformed or a very poor thinker.

    Everyone knows the Obamacare controls are, at best, insufficient and even there they only affect Medicare.

    It’s ironic that one of your ideas to lower costs is to encourage a system where employers don’t buy employee insurance because the ACA does exactly that. Many people have complained that the ACA provides an incentive for employers to drop coverage and simply move their employees into exchanges.

    As for changing the compensation model, I’m not sure how the federal government can change the method that private insurers/consumers use to pay private healthcare providers. The ACA does provide substantial incentives for changes in the compensation model for medicare. Are you suggesting Congress pass a law that prohibits insurers from paying a doctor or hospital for providing medical services to patients?

    That’s the question if you’re a partisan looking to justify a pre-selected course of action.

    No, that’s the question if you’re looking to effect change through the U.S. political system. You don’t have any other options but to help or hinder one of the two main parties. A refusal to accept this basic fact can only be the product of pure churlishness.

    The reality is that neither party will be able to impose its own solution, so your question is irrelevant.

    I hope you’re kidding here. The ACA solves the very serious problem of large numbers of uninsured. The only reason it passed is that Democrats controlled the White House and both houses of Congress. The same is true of equal pay for women. Gays can now serve openly in the military only because the country elected a Democratic president. These are very real problems that have been solved only because the Democrats used their Congressional and Presidential power to enact changes.

    IMO these are the two most important things we need to do to reform our healthcare system:

    1. Get employers out of the healthcare business.
    2. Replace fee-for-service with a better compensation model.

    While it’s certainly a good idea to make sure a person’s health insurance is not tied to his/her job, it strains logic to believe that individual consumers will negotiate better prices from insurers and healthcare providers than employers with HR departments and benefit specialists whose primary function is to negotiate the lowest price possible for coverage. I know of no sentient person who believes this to be the case.

    As for changing the compensation model, again, insurers and healthcare providers are free to do this today and, in fact, many such arrangements already exists. The most obvious example are HMOs.

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  73. Tyrell says:

    “Obama raises pay for Congress, Biden”: is this Obama’s fiscal cliff solution?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

  74. Herb says:

    @Robert Prather:

    “The odd thing is, Obama’s foreign policy is basically second term George Bush (or Bush the Elder) anf they still gripe about him.”

    With one crucial exception……for the most part,

    it’s been more successful

    .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  75. Andy says:

    @Robert Prather: Fair enough. If you’re happy with the Democratic party then that’s great. I’m not happy with either party, so I choose to remain independent. Different strokes and all that.

    @Spartacus:

    I believe the point you were making is that neither party party is solving the nation’s problems, to which I’ve advised you to support the party and the candidates that are either doing more to solve the problems or are doing less to make the problems worse.

    If I think neither party is able to solve the nation’s problems, what point is there to support the party that is “doing more,” whatever that means?

    It’s ironic that one of your ideas to lower costs is to encourage a system where employers don’t buy employee insurance because the ACA does exactly that.

    Why is that ironic?

    The ACA isn’t designed to replace employer-provided insurance – it’s designed to increase coverage to the uninsured. There will, no doubt, be some employers that opt to drop coverage, but most, especially large employers, won’t.

    As for changing the compensation model, I’m not sure how the federal government can change the method that private insurers/consumers use to pay private healthcare providers.

    The model most private insurers use is based off Medicare. FFS became the standard payment model when medicare was adopted and it is the standard almost everywhere. It is a bad model that incentivizes cost growth and should be changed IMO.

    The ACA does provide substantial incentives for changes in the compensation model for medicare. Are you suggesting Congress pass a law that prohibits insurers from paying a doctor or hospital for providing medical services to patients?

    No, the ACA provides for very minor changes. I’m talking about fundamental changes to the provider compensation structure. The ACA tinkers with the existing system. To answer your question, no.

    While talking about healthcare is certainly important and interesting, it’s not really the point of this thread, so I’m going to quit here on that topic.

    No, that’s the question if you’re looking to effect change through the U.S. political system. You don’t have any other options but to help or hinder one of the two main parties. A refusal to accept this basic fact can only be the product of pure churlishness.

    Curlishness? That word doesn’t make any sense in the context you’re using it…..

    As for the actual substance of your comment, your declaration that there are no other options is opinion, not fact. In my estimation, it is not a very well supported opinion.

    These are very real problems that have been solved only because the Democrats used their Congressional and Presidential power to enact changes.

    On occasion, when the stars align, and the American people hand power (temporarily) to a single party, then yes, they can push through a few things on their respective bucket lists. However, I’m talking about the big picture and the big problems facing this country. There is no single-party solution to foreign policy, budgets, entitlements to name just a few.

    @Ben Wolf:

    There are things that should never be defended or accepted, no matter who is pushing for them.

    Agree complete Ben!

    Anyway, I’ve made my arguments, I have little more to add, so I’ll probably quit here.

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