It's so nice not to exist. After all, the NYT told readers today:
"By all accounts, the next few years of declining deficits will be followed by years in which deficits will send the overall debt to unsustainable heights as the large baby boom generation ages, qualifying for ever-costlier medical benefits."
Of course that isn't my account. My account points out that the story of deficits that will "send the overall debt to unsustainable heights" is the story of a badly broken health care system. The United States already spends more than twice as much per person on health care as other wealthy countries. The tales of exploding deficits assume that this gap will continue to rise in the years ahead.
By 2022 these projections show the United States spending more than 20 percent of GDP on health care. In today's economy this would be equivalent to more than $34,000 for an average family of four. Such costs would imply an unbearable burden regardless of whether health care was paid for by the public or private sector.
This is why serious analyst might describe the issue as a health care problem, not a deficit problem. If U.S. health care costs were in line with those elsewhere in the world, there would be no long-term deficit problem. But hey, as long as the inside Washington gang all agree, why bother with such details?
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