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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press David Brooks Can't Get Access to Budget Documents

David Brooks Can't Get Access to Budget Documents

Friday, 18 February 2011 06:44

That is the only thing that readers of his column can conclude. Or, alternatively perhaps he missed the debate over health care reform during the last two years.

Brooks is very upset that President Obama is not doing more to deal with the growing national debt. If Brooks had access to budget documents he would know that the main reason for the large current budget deficits is the downturn caused by the collapse of the housing bubble.

If he is upset about these deficits he should be angry at the people who failed to warn of the dangers of the housing bubble. Certainly Mr. Brooks belongs on that list since he has a semi-weekly column that often deals with economic issues.

If Brooks had access to budget documents he would also know that the main driver of the deficit over the longer term is health care costs. If the United States paid the same amount per person for health care as any other wealthy country we would have huge budget surpluses, not budget deficits.

One of the goals of health care reform was to reduce the rate of growth of health care costs, which would also lower the deficit in the long-term. Brooks seems to be unaware of this aspect of the debate.

Comments (7)Add Comment
written by fuller schmidt, February 18, 2011 9:20
Brooks et al. can only share their shallow thinking because they are doing the Magic Being's work.
Brooks Epitomizes Epistemology's Conundrum
written by Paul, February 18, 2011 12:59
Does anything exist outside Brooks'perception? Apparently, his only reality is what he perceives to be true. Therefore, critical thinking for him is impossible and logical fallacies are obvious. Sad really.
written by Howlin Wolfe, February 18, 2011 4:52
Bobo is unaware of many other things - it's hard to keep up when one's head is firmly ensconced in one's rectum.
written by jamzo, February 18, 2011 5:51
mr brooks cheered mr bush and the gop on when they created deficits

as if he did not know then that they were setting up the current political battle

i am sure they never did think the economy would tank and give their push a little more traction
written by Gary Steve, February 19, 2011 2:38
Dean I just started following your work. How on earth can you make conclusions on inflation/deflation using these bogus stats disseminated by the reprobate BLS? AYFKM? They have been juking the stats with their "geometric weighting" BS for almost thirty years, lately using housing, WHICH THEY DID NOT USE DURING THE BOOM. I won't bore you with more. But the obvious downward bias on inflation leaves one to look elsewhere, like the supermarket.
With what hard data can you justify a deflationary scenario?

written by skeptonomist, February 19, 2011 9:19
The reason for the large deficits is insufficient revenue because of past tax cuts. Debt/GDP


was decreasing until 1981 when it suddenly turned around. Had it continued on the steep path of the Reagan and Bush I administrations in 1981-1993 it would have passed 100% around 2007 instead of this year. If all federal spending on health care is subtracted from expenditures, the path 1981-1993 is not as steep but is still increasing rapidly.

Debt/GDP turned around during the Clinton administration for several reasons, including the end of the cold war, capital gains from the stock-market bubble and tax increases. Debt/GDP again increased at an unsustainable rate during the Bush II administration, despite the housing bubble.

The current recession has obviously caused debt/GDP to shoot up again, but this still does not bring it to where it would have been had the 1981-1993 path continued. The tax situation is basically the same now as it was then. Responsible tax policy would be based on known expenditures, not on the assumption that growth of health care will be reversed because of drastic changes in the system which are not planned and have little chance of being implemented in the current political climate. Of course it would also not be based on the Republican assumption that impossible cuts will be made in discretionary programs.
written by David Sheegog, February 19, 2011 9:57
Gary Steve:
Most of us have some issues with BLS, but over time they have performed "not bad", and unless we are willing and have the time to go to multiple supermarkets ourselves and gather data, as well as maybe a half dozen other retail outlets we depend on BLS. They are reliable enough with raw data. We only get in trouble with it when we try to make it show more than it does. Haircuts and College Tuition are not rocket science. Exactlly the kind of thing the BLS does well.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.