A good, well, tweet from Chris Hayes:
Anyone notice that the pres signed a $680 BILLION defense approp bill in the midst of our debates about $90b a yr for hc?
That $680 billion, incidentally, doesn't count the cost of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.
You could say a lot about this juxtaposition, but among other things, it's a reminder that there's real rhetorical power in the time frame that gets chosen for a given policy. The stimulus, for instance, was explained as a two-year cost, so it was $800 billion, rather than $400 billion a year. Health-care reform is being sold as a 10-year cost, so it's $900 billion, rather than $90 billion a year. The defense appropriation is explained in terms of single-year cost, so it's $680 billion, as opposed to the $10 trillion or so that it would cost if you took into account expected growth.
There are reasons for all this. The stimulus was going to be spent over two years. Health-care reform is being balanced in the 10-year budget window. The defense bill is a single-year appropriation. Washington's professional wonk set knows all that. But most people just hear the numbers, and they don't necessarily know that the "trillion dollar health-care bill" the GOP keeps talking about will actually cost $90 billion a year, and it will cut the deficit. Standardizing all costs to an annual cost would do a lot to help people figure this out. And explaining things in terms of the federal budget -- how much is $90 billion as a percent of what we'll spend this year? How about $680 billion? -- would do a lot to help people put it all in context.
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