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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press "The Cost of the Looming Fiscal Crisis" Should Not Be a Throwaway Line

"The Cost of the Looming Fiscal Crisis" Should Not Be a Throwaway Line

Monday, 19 November 2012 05:33

Unfortunately it is in an otherwise useful column by Thomas Edsall on evolving political attitudes. The second to the last sentence tells reader that:

"Nonetheless, the overarching division remains, and the battle lines are drawn over how to distribute the costs of the looming fiscal crisis."

But those wondering about the nature of the costly fiscal crisis to which Edsall is referring would follow the link to a Wall Street Journal piece on the fiscal showdown over the end of the Bush tax cuts and the sequester of spending that are scheduled to occurr at the end of the year. This crisis is one of excessive deficit reduction, it is resolved by smaller tax increases and smaller cuts in spending.

In other words, the crisis is that we are taking too much money away from people, which will hurt the economy. The crisis will be resolved by taking less money away from people. It is the opposite of a "costly fiscal crisis." Instead, we will be faced with a costly economic crisis if the tax increases and spending cuts are allowed to take effect.

Comments (5)Add Comment
Edsall Drinks the Kool Aid on Takers and Makers
written by Robert Salzberg, November 19, 2012 5:06
The Right has effectively equated social safety net programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security with Socialism in the minds of many Americans on both sides of the political spectrum so Edsall's analysis and conclusions based on polling data about views on Socialism vs Capitalism are less than worthless.

Edsall sums up by concluding:

"In broader terms, the political confrontation pits taxpayers, who now form the core of the center-right coalition, against tax consumers who form the core of the center-left."

To illustrate just how crazy Edall's analysis is, I'll let Newt Gingrich do the honors:

""I'm very disappointed with Governor Romney's analysis, which I believe is insulting and profoundly wrong," Gingrich said in an interview with KLRU-TV in Austin. "First of all, we didn't lose Asian-Americans because they got any gifts. He did worse with Asian-Americans than he did with Latinos. This is the hardest-working and most successful ethnic group in America--they ain't into gifts.

"Second, it's an insult to all Americans," he continued. "It reduces us to economic entities. You have no passion, no idealism, no dreams, no philosophy. If it had been that simple, my question would be, 'Why didn't you outbid him?' He had enough billionaire supporters, if buying the electorate was the key, he could have got all his super PAC friends together and said, don't buy ads, give gifts. Be like the northwest Indians who have gift-giving ceremonies. We could have gone town-by-town and said, 'Come here, let me give you gifts. Here are Republican gifts.' An elephant coming in with gifts on it.""

Educated vs. Ignorant
written by Robert Salzberg, November 19, 2012 5:29
The 47%, makers vs. takers, gifts from Obama...in his column Edsall propogates the idea that American politics is now a dichotomy between those that give and those that receive from government.

Here's a little reality check to break up the monotony of crazy: Red States that vote Republican are much more likely to be net receivers from the federal government than Blue States that vote Democratic.

The real divide is the ignorant vs the educated. In that sense, Limbaugh is right, his side has lost the country. Not because of makers and takers but because facts are beginning to win over fiction, at least a little bit.

Robert Salzberg is right
written by f.fursty, November 19, 2012 1:35
That Edsall column buys into Limbaugh's logic. I have yet to see any data that would show a political Democratic/Republican divide that pits most "takers" -- defined as those who pay no income taxes -- against the "providers," defined as those who pay taxes. As Salzberg points out, on a state level the divide is quite the opposite, with the "provider" states generally voting Democratic while the "taker" states vote Republican.

Can anyone point to any actual data that would support the fantasy of the right wing, which Edsall, who is otherwise excellent, seems to have lazily bought into.
A superficial fellow, Mr. Edsall. Missing the $800 billion of health care waste.
written by Rachel, November 19, 2012 10:24

The superficial Edsall claims that we want to invest in education. But do we? A handy chart at Nationmaster shows that in number of doctors per 100,000, we in the United States rank 52nd. After Cyprus and Croatia. And that is despite importing 25 to 30% of our physicians from overseas. We also import almost as many nurses. It's absurd.

The result of this lack of education is that we waste a lot of money. A big chunk of the $800 billion that we overspend on health care each year is because of overpriced labor, meaning above all those very same doctors and nurses. It also means that fewer young people who might choose a career in medicine are able to do so (presumably more of the young from lower income families are denied than from higher ranks). And the relative scarcity also means worse health.

But who among the people Edsall calls liberal ever mentions that we have, for many decades now, failed to educate enough doctors? To do so might threaten the status of Mr. Edsall's privledged neighbors, I suppose. So no, his sort of liberalism promotes another species of education: in community colleges, to produce manpower for the new factories. And inequality, and wasted money, will go on.
written by Bruce Miller, November 20, 2012 8:40
Thomas Edsall seems to relish the role of highbrow liberal "concern troll". He's been reinforcing conservative framing for at least the last two decades. I'm continually amazed that he is conventionally regarded as a liberal. Although, as you mention with this article, he *does* write "otherwise useful" stuff. But his analyses pretty consistently support the Republican view, with a liberal-concern-troll twist.

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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.