This is only a very slight caricature of Jonathan Weisman's "Congressional Memo" in today's NYT. He tells readers:
"For three years, Congressional leaders have relied on tactical maneuvers, sleights of hand and sheer gimmickry to move the nation from one fiscal crisis to the next — with little strategy to deal with the actual problems at hand. Medicare and Social Security continue to swell with an aging population. Health care costs grow. A burdensome tax code remains unchanged, and economic revival is shadowed by the specter of Washington’s crisis-driven mismanagement."
Remember, this is in a context in which we are still almost 9 million jobs below trend level. We have millions more working at part-time jobs who would like full-time jobs. Real wages have not grown in more than a decade. And, we are losing $1 trillion in output every year or more than $80 billion a month because there is not enough demand in the economy.
This situation is leading to families being ruined and children being deprived of the sort of upbringing that will allow them to be successful as adults.
Yet, we have someone telling us that that the actual problems at hand are Medicare and Social Security? The claim on health care costs is bizarre since we have seen a sharper downturn in the rate of growth of spending that we had any reason to believe would come from health care reform. The tax code is a mess, but so what? It was a mess in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s yet we still saw solid growth.
The latest set of long-term projections from the Congressional Budget Office show that in the baseline scenario we have decades before we reach debt to GDP ratios that anyone would consider a serious problem. In a world where the immediate problems are so immense, it is difficult to believe that any serious person can be upset that we are not focusing on long-term problems that may not even exist.
(Only one link allowed per comment)