Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The first problem with Obama's deficit plan

Here's the president's deficit proposal, at least in rough form. It's no Ryan plan (i.e., it doesn't rely on completely fictional numbers) but it still looks pretty bad to me.

As every reasonably honest budget wonk in the nation knows, long-term deficit growth is an expression of health care cost growth. As such, the permanent solution to the deficit is to solve the cost problem, not to engage in creative accounting. Obama's deficit does more to address health care than Ryan's plan -- for starters, it doesn't repeal the ACA, which cuts costs -- but it hardly solves cost growth, because nobody knows how to solve cost growth.

So Obama's plan is still kind of fundamentally dumb for the same reason all these deficit plans are dumb: it requires us to feed large chunks of civil society to the health-care-cost monster in order to keep it off our backs, while doing too little to actually tame the health-care-cost monster. Eventually it'll just eat us anyway, and in the meantime, America will suck more for everyone.

So in that sense, we'd be better off without any plan at all. Everything comes down to a health-care solution; regardless of whether we find one, we're better off leaving the lights on at the EPA.

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