Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?
Menzie Chinn reads Robert Samuelson so we do not have to. Thank you, Menzie:
Econbrowser: Robert Samuelson on Economics: And on unavoidable spending, and debt crises, and on budget accounting... From the Washington Post: comes this headline:
With health bill, Obama has sown the seeds of a budget crisis
Here's a choice excerpt:
Should the United States someday suffer a budget crisis, it will be hard not to conclude that Obama and his allies sowed the seeds, because they ignored conspicuous warnings. A further irony will not escape historians. For two years, Obama and members of Congress have angrily blamed the shortsightedness and selfishness of bankers and rating agencies for causing the recent financial crisis. The president and his supporters, historians will note, were equally shortsighted and self-centered -- though their quest was for political glory, not financial gain.
Kinda wierd -- I thought that Obama was inaugurated in January 20, 2009, which is somewhat less than two years ago.... I thought it interesting that Mr. Samuelson neglected to mention how much of the upward jump in the debt-to-GDP ratio occurred before January 2009.... Here is where Mr. Samuelson dismisses the entire budgeting process in Washington:
But the CBO estimate is misleading, because it must embody the law's many unrealistic assumptions and gimmicks. Benefits are phased in "so that the first 10 years of [higher] revenue would be used to pay for only six years of spending" increases, a former CBO director, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, wrote in the New York Times on March 20. Holtz-Eakin also noted the $70 billion of premiums for a new program of long-term care that reduce present deficits but will be paid out in benefits later. Then there's the "doc fix" -- higher Medicare reimbursements under separate legislation that would cost about $200 billion over a decade...
I also like how Mr. Samuelson conveniently lumps certain spending as avoidable, and some unavoidable. I find in particular this passage from a 2006 WaPo article highly amusing (to say the least): "Some of Bush's spending increases (defense, homeland security) were unavoidable."... [A] simple question. Why do we ascribe any credibility to a person with an undergraduate degree in political science (what is called Government at Harvard) in the area of economics (let alone accounting)?
The fact is that the health care reform bill is a very larage lung-run deficit reducer unless none of the changes in Medicare reimbursement stick. And they will stick--unless, that is, Roberts and Scalia decide somehow to make sure that they don't.