The growth solution
I think Ross Douthat gets me slightly wrong here: The point of focusing on growth -- both growth of the economy and growth of the debt -- is that it gets you focusing on the right solutions. We don't have any policies that could move GDP growth from 2.5 to 4 percent over the next 10 years. But the second option I offered -- slowing the growth rate of health-care costs, which are primarily responsible for our rising deficits -- really can be done, if not easily.
One way to think about this is to consider the GOP's current position on reducing the deficit. On the one hand, they want to repeal not just the health-care reform bill in its totality, but its cost controls and Medicare reforms in particular. At the same time, they're offering vague promises of spending cuts at some point in the future.
Even if there were reason to think those spending cuts would materialize, this would still be an awful trade. Something like the Independent Payment Advisory Board really might slow the growth in Medicare's spending. A spending cut, by contrast, will just be wiped out by the growth rate of Medicare's spending. But since people don't think of this stuff in terms of growth, the relative value of different types of reforms aren't well understood.
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