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Posted at 5:28 PM ET, 01/24/2011

Obama: Explain how can we afford government

By Stephen Stromberg

Don Taylor makes a good point about liberals and the deficit:

In the end, I think Progressives have more at stake on the deficit than do Conservatives, because Progressives believe that government does have a key role to play in modern life. Conservatives are happy to cut taxes but not spending and then say the inevitable deficit proves government doesn't work. Progressives must take up the cause of developing a long range balanced budget or else there will be no room for government action where it is needed in the years ahead. Hopefully the President will begin making the Progressive case for sensible deficit reduction in the State of the Union.

It's a running irony in Washington that some liberals instinctively resist any reform of entitlements that are set to spend themselves into oblivion. (See, for example, my post last year on Rachel Maddow, who argued that one need only ask beneficiaries to determine whether Medicare or Social Security works. Sure, they'll give you an uncolored view of whether the government must spend less on them.)

But, as Taylor notes, projected deficits are -- right now -- directly harming the political viability of social spending, too, years before insolvency itself demands punishing funding reductions. The Republican Study Committee's deficit-cutting plans already involve massive cuts to domestic discretionary spending. And until someone makes the long-term outlook less depressing, the Republican argument Taylor describes gets stronger.

Even if you agree with Paul Krugman -- who has argued that long-term deficits need not concern us now, as the economy slowly recovers -- this political dynamic should spur progressives of all types to get in front of the issue, to become more credible than Republicans on long-term taxing and spending. On policy terms, this is very doable, given the contents of some GOP proposals. (Ruth Marcus takes down the Republican Study Committee here.) But calling for entitlement reform and revenue increases will also be tough politically. The Democrats need a good pitch, too.

President Obama is sure to discuss America's long-term fiscal situation Tuesday night, as Taylor suggests. But the president often insists on the importance of more careful budgeting. The question really is: Will Obama start to explain more successfully what deficit hawkery looks like when you favor a robust social safety net -- including both entitlements and worthy domestic discretionary spending? Because the GOP is winning on the politics of the deficit, and they may begin winning on the policy, too.

By Stephen Stromberg  | January 24, 2011; 5:28 PM ET
Categories:  Stromberg  | Tags:  Stephen Stromberg  
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Comments

Obama argued that we could not afford the "tax cuts for the rich" but must have the "tax cuts for the middle class". Republicans argued that we could afford both.

In true Washington fashion, they compromised, by spending ten times as much as either side wanted.

They have NO credibility calling for deficit reduction. The first side to actually DO something wins.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | January 24, 2011 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Do WaPo writers take a vow to ignore all history that they don't like? Obama has addressed this topic already.

On March 16, 2006, then Senator Obama, made the following statement on the Senate floor:

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership . Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America's debt limit.”

The deficit in 2006 was $9 Trillion, today it is $14 Trillion

Posted by: pilsener | January 24, 2011 5:35 PM | Report abuse

OUR tax dollars buy the most expensive medical insurance in the world for government workers.

In the world of medical insurance NOTHING I mean NOTHING can be as poorly managed as the current medical insurance industry. This industry deserves the FBI and a Grand Jury!

Health care, which people require, like it or not, because we are human beings is not a matter of choice. Therefore should not be treated as a huge money maker or retail item.

Our health should not be a player on Wall Street which is to say the only way to heavily regulate medical insurance is to move all us into IMPROVED Medicare Insurance for All. There is no way to justify spending/wasting health insurance dollars on:

* corp jets

* Expensive misinformation campaigns @ $1.4 million health care dollars a day by the Chamber of Commerce and the medical insurance industry.

* extreme profits to support reckless spending

* high corporate salaries to over 2000 medical insurance providers

* advertising

* billions in over charges ( did you get your refund yet?)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/24/AR2009062401636.html

*sales commissions

*Shareholders CERTAINLY increases the cost of insurance. Why are health insurance dollars going to shareholders?

*Health care tax dollars becoming special interest campaign dollars. Why are health insurance dollars being spent on political campaigns?

* Golden parachutes (In 2009 CIGNA CEO received a $73 million retirement bonus which is a ton of health care dollars that would cover 6,084 families for one year). Why are health insurance dollars being spent on golden parachutes?


* Politicians as shareholders( conflict of interest or what!):
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/12/AR2009061204075.html

Truly the only way consumers are going to get ahead is to begin paying out of pocket and investing insurance premium dollars wisely to cover expenses.


Why contribute to reckless and corrupt spending that finds its way to golden parachutes,over charges,political campaigns,shareholders and corp jets?

Posted by: rheckler2002 | January 24, 2011 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Republican elected officials LOVE their taxpayer funded medical insurance. Shouldn't all taxpayers have an opportunity to LOVE their taxpayer funded medical insurance?

Bush/ Cheney had 6 years of complete republican/neoconservative party control and did nothing to bring down the cost medical insurance. The neoconservative party screamed FREE MARKET!!!

What was the primary objective of Obamacare? To provide insurance coverage for at least
39 million more people.

The medical insurance industry has no intentions of reducing the cost without reducing services

And the neoconservative party STILL supports the most expensive medical insurance industry in the world.

BECAUSE the neoconservative party members refuse to open health care savings accounts
on their own that which is the party answer to health insurance.

The neoconservative party have a few consistent patterns:

1. They take out financial institutions

2. They come to taxpayers for bailouts each time

3. They never reduce taxes instead move taxes elsewhere

4. They kill economies then complain about gov't spending taxes to create jobs

5. They start money hole wars for oil then blame the other party

6. They never have reduced the size of government in spite of rhetoric

7. They have always increased the size and cost of government in spite of rhetoric

8. They continue to push for killing Social Security to boost their Wall Street special interests

9. They have never purchased health care savings accounts in spite of rhetoric

10.They have never reduced the cost of prescriptions instead they increased the cost
of prescriptions by way of Medicare Part D = more profits for the medical insurance industry.

Posted by: rheckler2002 | January 24, 2011 7:44 PM | Report abuse


But for many hardworking families, affordable insurance can be hard to find. The new "Wise Health Insurance" is giving you more control over your family’s health care by expanding your options for health insurance and making them more affordable.

Posted by: pauldowns | January 25, 2011 3:53 AM | Report abuse

Republican study groups are fine, but they ignore a number of things:

1. Republicans are responsible for most of the national debt (especially Reagan and Bush, junior);

2. For whatever reason, historically, those who want to increase spending also find the revenue to cover it. For example the Republicans did not cover MEdicare part D, and forgot to include 2 wars in the budget for 6 years or so!

3. The best way to fix the deficit is to fix the economy. You fix the economy by minimizing the deficit in the good years (which historically the Democrats do and the Republicans don't), and via deficit spending in the bad years (which both do).

So, short of meaningless rhetoric, why do we need to pay attention to Republican study groups? Afterall, where were they (or ANY Republican for that matter) when the Republicans were driving the economy to collapse?

Posted by: AMviennaVA | January 25, 2011 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Republican elected officials LOVE their taxpayer assisted medical insurance. Shouldn't all taxpayers have an opportunity to LOVE their taxpayer assisted medical insurance?

Congress' own healthcare benefits: membership has its privileges Lawmakers can choose among several plans and get special treatment at federal medical facilities. In 2008, taxpayers spent about $15 billion to insure 8.5 million federal workers and their dependents.

But many Americans think Congress is out of touch. How, they wonder, can lawmakers empathize with the underinsured or those lacking insurance when they receive a benefits package -- heavily subsidized by taxpayers -- that most of us can only envy?

Indeed, a question often surfaces: Why can't everyone enjoy the same benefits as members of Congress? The answer: The country probably couldn't afford it -- not without reforms to bring costs way, way down.

Given their choices, lawmakers can tailor coverage in a way most Americans cannot. If a child has asthma, for instance, a federal employee might opt for coverage that costs a little more but has a bigger doctor network and lower office-visit fees.

The plan most favored by federal workers is Blue Cross Blue Shield, which covers a family for about $1,030 a month. Taxpayers kick in $700, and employees pay the rest. Seeing a doctor costs $20. Generic prescriptions cost $10. Immunizations are free. There is no coverage limit.
http://articles.latimes.com/2009/aug/02/nation/na-congress-benefits2

Bush/ Cheney had 6 years of complete republican/neoconservative party control and did nothing to bring down the cost medical insurance. The neoconservative party screamed FREE MARKET!!!

What was the primary objective of Obamacare? To provide insurance coverage for at least
39 million more people.

The medical insurance industry has no intentions of reducing the cost without reducing services

And the neoconservative party STILL supports the most expensive medical insurance industry in the world.

Posted by: rheckler2002 | January 25, 2011 9:51 AM | Report abuse

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