Words of wisdom, from David Leonhardt

“If the long-term issue is entitlement reform,” says Joel Slemrod, a University of Michigan ist, “the fact that the political system cannot say no to $250 checks to elderly people is a bad sign.”

The full coverage is here.

Comments

The system also can't say no to tax credits for tax credits for upper middle class homeowners who wish to upgrade their housing purchase as in the new tax credit for existing homeowners who upgrade to a more expensive house. Thank you Sen. Corzine.

Cornyn, you meant.

And it depends on what you think Obama's strategy is - giving seniors a COLA adjustment because you fear them, or using it as a stimulus without the political capital that would require. Probably some of both . . .

In the comments to the previous post, Vehicle Driver gets it right:

Eventually we hit the natural limits and the system corrects itself.

Unfortunately, the system will correct itself on the backs of our children and grandchildren.

Didn't goldman sachs just get about the same total of money just for their AIG scam, not including all of the other free money we give them on a daily basis? I have a much harder time with that give away than denying my grandma $250.

One of the biggest problems we are facing is that we have a society where the demand for liquidity is too high. We have people with money investing in stocks rather than startups.

In my entire life, I have seen the federal government undertake one true, major reform. And it has spent the last 22 years undoing it to the point that we are in a worse state than before.

Ever since people starting speculating about health care "rationing" -- I was telling everyone this is completely stupid. The government has very weak resolve to perform any sort of rationing, which is one reason why SS is in long-term trouble, why we run such huge deficits, etc.

The reason to be against single-payer health care is that the govt is likely not to be able to contain costs by restricting benefits.

On the other hand, I don't see how this is an argument against health care reform. Health care reform, as I see it, is about (1) consumer protections, which involve (2) availability of insurance regardless of prior conditions, which to prevent gaming the system requires (3) mandated insurance coverage, which to be affordable to the poor requires (4) insurance subsidies. As I see it, (1) is essential to a healthy insurance market -- without it one can't be assured she is actually buying "insurance" of any sort at all, seeing as how odds are if her medical bills far exceed her premium she'll be retroactively denied coverage. Once you start down the path of (1), you get the whole package.

So cost containment is a separate issue. That our govt appears poorly positioned to deal with it simply means the private sector will need to take the lead.

"The reason to be against single-payer health care is that the govt is likely not to be able to contain costs by restricting benefits."

Well, the data is in (from the OECD) and many countries spend as little as 1/3 per cap as the US, even is wholly nationalized systems, with single payer, with public private and mandates, blah blah blah.

We pay the most in the whole world.

I'll take a proven 50% off with single payer over some other ideological solution.

It often seems that the comments here are often little more than 'get off my lawn!'

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