President Obama’s budget proposal fails to address the real deficit culprits.

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.

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Thomas Ferguson is Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and a Senior Fellow of the Roosevelt Institute. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University and taught formerly at MIT and the University of Texas, Austin. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including Golden Rule (University of Chicago Press, 1995) and Right Turn (Hill & Wang, 1986). Most of his research focuses on how economics and politics affect institutions and vice versa. His articles have appeared in many scholarly journals, including the Quarterly Journal of Economics, International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, and the Journal of Economic History. He is a long time Contributing Editor to The Nation and a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of the Historical Society and the International Journal of Political Economy.