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Addressing long-term budget issues requires bringing US health care costs in line with those of other major countries with better records on providing adequate services to their populations. That is not done by fixing inflexible spending limits, but by allowing the government to bargain with Big Pharma over drug prices and making health insurers actually compete. In the long run, we probably need a single-payer system that eliminates all the wasteful duplication in medical forms, advertising, etc, that pass on costs to the consumer. If you also rein in military spending and regulate banks to prevent another financial crisis from wrecking both the economy and the budget again, much of the deficit problem disappears. Then you can admit the truth of what close students of Social Security already know: That there is no problem with that program for decades, if ever.
The President should have started us down that road today. He didn’t. Instead, he’s kicking off a race to the bottom with the Republicans that will will wreck America’s future and further mystify the public. And don’t fool yourself with talk about appeals to “independent voters.” Almost no polls ask voters if they would like to tax the wealthy. The one poll that did found 61% opting for that. For the next two years, one number towers over all others: $1 billion. That’s what the President’s reelection campaign is going to cost. The real audience for the budget proposals is Wall Street, not any set of voters, and certainly not the popular movement that elected him.
**For more, check out a paper co-authored by Tom Ferguson and Rob Johnson: “A World Upside Down? Deficit Fantasies in the Great Recession“
Cross-posted from New Deal 2.0.
Thomas Ferguson is Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is the author of many books and articles, including Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems.