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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Morning Edition Has Determined That the Deficit is a "Great Problem"

Morning Edition Has Determined That the Deficit is a "Great Problem"

Tuesday, 16 November 2010 05:20

Listeners might have thought that 9.6 percent unemployment, with 25 million people unemployed, underemployed, or who have given up looking for work altogether was the biggest problem facing the country today. But, NPR knows better.

It concluded a fawning interview with New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg by referring the deficit as a "great problem." It would have been interesting if they explained to listeners how they arrived at this conclusion.

People who know economics know that current deficits are due to the collapse of the housing bubble. NPR had virtually no time for analysts who warned of this entirely predictable disaster (unlike the endless hours that it devotes to deficits). If deficits were smaller today we would have fewer jobs and higher unemployment. It is not clear why anyone would advocate this outcome.

In the longer term, the large projected deficits are attributable to a projected explosion of health care costs in the United States. Per person costs are projected to rise from a bit more than twice the average of other wealthy countries to 3 or 4 times the average per person cost. If health care costs increase as projected, it will have a devastating impact on the economy. It will also lead to a large budget deficit. If U.S. health care costs were comparable to those in Canada, Germany or other wealthy countries, the United States would be looking at long-term surpluses, not deficits.

A competent interviewer would have asked Senator Gregg why he persists in misrepresenting a health care problem as a budget problem.

Comments (7)Add Comment
written by Mary Lincoln, November 16, 2010 8:24
...and why he let Gregg mischaracterize both the nature of insurance and the nature of social security!

I wish American journalists would question assertions made by politicians like the British seem to do. Instead they just run down their list of questions and never ask a follow-up when the answer smells. I suppose it's because they're too lazy to educate themselves properly before the interview.
Next on NPR, Colonoscopy Expert Explains the Deficit
written by izzatzo, November 16, 2010 8:26
Hello, is this NPR? I'd like to schedule a colonoscopy with one of the deficit experts who've been on the show.


They do perform colonoscopies don't they? They're obviously experts on everything else such as economics and so forth, having studied the subject so thoroughly and exhibiting their vast ability to add and subtract whole numbers when viewed in primary colors in large font size.

And especially given their death-panel like understanding of how health care costs add to the debt, I just assumed they did colonoscopies as well, at least on the side, given their ability to ... you know ... probe so thoroughly ... not to mention the pleasure they must get from all the guilty squirming by their subjects who suddenly realize they're finally getting the economic truth.

How about an appointment with Senator Judd Gregg? He seems to enjoy having people bend over and take his economic lectures in the rear end.
written by ds, November 16, 2010 9:56
exactly and it shows why the issues underlying the deficit are 'real' issues and not financial issues. the concept of a government saving in its own liabilities is absurd to begin with, but even if it weren't, cutting spending and saving today will do nothing to address the real issues at hand. if anything, by reducing demand for current output, cutting deficits will reduce both output and productivity growth in the future leaving future generations less able to cope with the projected strain on real output.

written by diesel, November 16, 2010 10:49
It is a "great problem" for they shall have blown enough hot air into it to inflate a blimp.
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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.