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He's Just Not That Into H.R. 3200

Howard Gleckman:

It is interesting, and perhaps worth noting, that while political opposition seems to be hardening against the $1 trillion, ten-year cost of the early versions of health reform, barely a peep of concern has been raised about the $3 trillion price tag for President Obama’s plan to extend most of the Bush-era tax cuts.

The message seems pretty clear: The President, congressional Democrats, and nearly all Republicans are fine with busting the budget to cut taxes for nearly everyone, notwithstanding a cumulative deficit over the next decade of $9 trillion. They are, by contrast, unwilling to spend one-third as much to provide medical insurance for those who cannot afford it. I’ve always felt that health reform is as much an ethical choice as an economic one. We appear to be making ours.

Also, that $1 trillion is paid for. The $3 trillion is not. The deficit has become to the health-care debate as "I'm just not ready for a relationship" is to break-ups. It doesn't mean anything, but it lets everyone save face.

By Ezra Klein  |  August 28, 2009; 3:47 PM ET
 
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Comments

I'm quite peeved at Obama's agenda to extend the Bush income tax cuts to every tax bracket but the top two, as well as his plan to extend the Bush-era capital gains and dividend tax cut. In my view, we should be increasing taxes and cutting spending. Instead, Obama is cutting taxes and increasing spending. This fiscal irresponsibility is a disaster for the republic, and this view is not a pretext, as Klein insultingly asserts.

Posted by: Dellis2 | August 28, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for cutting spending, as long as we start by cutting defense spending in half since it's entirely a boondoggle at this point.

Except... that's never going to happen.

That's the biggest part of the "cut spending" myth: we continue to cut programs we need while increasing out feeding of Ike's famed Military Industrial Complex.

John

Posted by: toshiaki | August 28, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Defense spending is near 50 year lows vis-a-vis GDP. Mandatory spending, primarily in the form of Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid are the primary drivers of increasing government spending, both now and over the coming epoch. A serious proposal to cut spending must include cutting spending on these three programs. I'd propose: tying SS benefits directly to lifetime payroll taxes times inflation; transforming Medicare into a bare-bones operation that spends rationally based on health and time benefits while factoring in cost; and replacing Medicaid with a sliding scale of subsidies into "exchanges". Either way, the long-term deficit gap is a major public policy problem. Klein brings dishonor upon himself by denying it.

Posted by: Dellis2 | August 28, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

"...barely a peep of concern has been raised about the $3 trillion price tag for President Obama’s plan to extend most of the Bush-era tax cuts."

The assumption being that all earned income rightfully belongs to the government and the tax-paying citizenry should count itself fortunate that the solons deign to "pay the price" of reducing their take a smidge. That bit of perverse logic is what is known as inside-the-beltway thinking.

Posted by: tbass1 | August 28, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

If only Democrats could figure out how to correctly pay their taxes.

Why don't you ever consider the impact of higher taxes upon the employment opportunities of lower skilled workers? For instance, if you significantly increase the taxes on someone to the point where they can no longer afford to employ a cleaner or a gardener or a cook then you're destroying the jobs of those employees. Is that ethical?

Is mandated equality really ethical? Shouldn't merit be rewarded? Do you think that everyone with money got it through luck? Didn't all of those experiments fail in the 20th century?

Posted by: fallsmeadjc | August 28, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

This post demonstrates why it's senseless to say that the health reform bill is paid for. If the Democrats can't get it together to roll back the Bush tax cuts, the likelihood that they will cut hundreds of millions of dollars out of Medicare is nil.

Posted by: tomtildrum | August 28, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

"Is mandated equality really ethical?"

Is that strawman helping you follow the Yellow Brick Road, Dorothy?

Posted by: pseudonymousinnc | August 28, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

since medicare, medicaid and social security are paid for with dedicated taxes and are currently in surplus cutting them really does nothing but increase deficits unless the plan would be to keep the taxes and use dedicated tax money for purposes for which it wasn't dedicated.

The take home lesson being, Ezra needs better Friday trolls

Posted by: williamcross1 | August 28, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

It is interesting thaat a discussion of raising the marginal tax rate 2% on the highest income Americans so quickly brings out the cries of "it will destroy job creation".

Excessive taxation will do that. We are nowhere close to that point.

Posted by: scott1959 | August 28, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

they should target their taxes. They should tax health plans over a set amount per year that's regionally adjusted because of the great regional variances of cost for similar plans. The problem is Obama promised he wouldn't do that, the unions he'd beholden to wouldn't let him do it and the Republicans wouldn't let him forget it come 2012. Tax the wealthy more but make sure you don't do too much because then they'll just find a way to evade it, like the UBS scandal.

oh and spending needs to stop too. I'm fine with decreasing defense spending so long as it doesn't jeopardize our troops.

Posted by: visionbrkr | August 28, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

"...barely a peep of concern has been raised about the $3 trillion price tag for President Obama’s plan to extend most of the Bush-era tax cuts."

That's because tax cuts don't 'cost'.

Spending money COSTS

Take accounting 201

Posted by: WrongfulDeath | August 30, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

William Cross: Every forecast shows that your "dedicated taxes" are set to fall significantly below the cost of the programs they are dedicated to support within the next decade, and the problem will only get exponentially worse with time due to demographic changes. Thus, your ad hominum attack is not only mean-spirited; it is also idiotic.

Posted by: Dellis2 | August 30, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

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