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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Robert Samuelson Does the Big Lie, Big Time

Robert Samuelson Does the Big Lie, Big Time

Monday, 22 November 2010 06:02

Competent budget analysts know that the long-term budget problem is a health care cost problem. If U.S. per person health care costs were comparable to those in any other wealthy country, we would be looking at huge projected surpluses not deficits. Because health care costs are rising rapidly in the private sector, it means that the public sector programs that pay for these benefits (most important Medicare and Medicaid) also have rapidly rising costs.

If Medicare and Medicaid are lumped together with any other programs then the combination of Medicare, Medicaid, and the other program will be the cause of the deficit. For example, the categories of Medicare, Medicaid, and foreign aid explain the vast majority of the projected increase in the deficit over the next quarter century. Similarly, the combination of Medicare, Medicaid, and school lunch programs also explains the vast majority of the projected increase in the deficit over the next quarter century.

Robert Samuelson throws in Social Security as the third program so that he can tell readers:

"America's budget problem boils down to a simple question: How much will we let programs for the elderly displace other government functions."

Social Security does not in any honest way since it is fully financed over the period in question by the designated Social Security tax. But Samuelson does not feel bound by such details.

Of course there are easy ways to prevent health care costs from bankrupting the country, most obviously by taking advantage of the lower cost health care available in other countries. But, Samuelson never discusses such possibilities, focusing exclusively on cutting benefits on which the vast majority of retirees depend.

Comments (14)Add Comment
GOP Media Blitz
written by Ron Alley, November 22, 2010 6:51
The coordination between the media and the GOP leadership is breath-taking as shown by the articles on which Dean's comments today. Here is a bit reported by Paul Krugman in his article that is not so widely reported>
[Former Senator}Simpson said on Friday: “I can’t wait for the blood bath in April. ... When debt limit time comes, they’re going to look around and say, ‘What in the hell do we do now? We’ve got guys who will not approve the debt limit extension unless we give ’em a piece of meat, real meat,’ ” meaning spending cuts. “And boy, the blood bath will be extraordinary,” he continued.

Death Panels Cut Lunch Programs and Health Care to Save SS
written by izzatzo, November 22, 2010 7:17
At first the Death Panel Deficit Hawks made shameless cuts in government funded school lunch programs by stripping them of fructose laden obesity proteins essential to nutrition, so the elderly could have their Social Security at the expense of robbing the young of their nutritional health.

Now they want to cut Medicare and Medicaid as sacrificial trade offs forced onto helpless ill and disabled victims, so freeloading socialists on Social Security have even more benefits as as a special interest group of the elderly milking the government for entitlements.

This is what it's come to, Deficit Hawks working secretely with Dean Baker behind the scenes as Death Panelists, bringing down America by pitting the young against the old by tinkering with their very lifespans like so many present value dollars of debt laying on the sidewalk.
written by warpal, November 22, 2010 7:20
The coordination between the media and the GOP leadership is breath-taking

You forget that Simpson was hired by a Democrat. Don't delude yourself, Obama is every inch as much a fraud as Simpson. Evidently, the White House has been remodeled into Uncle Tom's Cabin
Standard Operating Practice in US Media
written by Hugh Sansom, November 22, 2010 11:46
NPR was doing the same thing just yesterday (Sunday, 21 November) with its anchor Guy Raz leading the lies in an interview with Robert Reischauer and Charles Blahous singing the praises of Bowles and Simpson.

Are the rich really so greedy that they can't bare any outcome that doesn't involves squeezing every last penny from those less fortunate?
written by fuller schmidt, November 22, 2010 12:44
Actually Simpson and Bowles have been hired by Lobbyists. Presidents only hit the big time after they are out of office.
written by Jeff Zink, November 22, 2010 12:45
Hugh Sansom writes, "Are the rich really so greedy that they can't bare any outcome that doesn't involves squeezing every last penny from those less fortunate?"

Yes, they are.
Killer Whale and the Seal
written by Rick Miller, November 22, 2010 1:29
As you may have guessed I wrote this title to grab your attention. I just watched you on Charlie Rich show and I was impressed by what you said about the economic situation in America. I look at the situation of the rich and wealthy and compare it to a killer whale who has a seal in its mouth. Everyone knows trying to take money away from such a huge powerfull object without saying will be hard and almost impossible. I think you are going to give the beast someting to make it drop the seal to grab something else or kill it to rescue the seal.
I am a union member belonging to a craft union of plumbers and steamfitters located in the midwest. Our members are 1200 strong. At present there are 250 or so members out of work. Not so strong. Why do so many hate us? We have helped build this country and are a good part of its history. I have had an oportunity on several ocasions to teach apprentices about our union heritage. Which is positive for the most part. It is our main goal to give every person the opportunity to live better and earn better wages for the only thing they have to sell, their labor. Selling themselves one on one to their employer as opposed to selling their labor belonging to a unified groop of skilled members educated trained and certified brings them better wages. Any where else if you hear the word, United, it is respected. United States,United Way, united whatever. But if its United Association of whatever craft your looked down upon. Thanks for listening.
written by jwo, November 22, 2010 3:33
Social Security does not in any honest way since it is fully financed over the period in question by the designated Social Security tax.

Yes but it is a tax that can be avoided without the avoider loosing the entire benefit. As such it entices people to drop out of taxed work in favor of producing for in family consumption or working in the untaxed black market and yes there is a lot of that going on.

The FICA tax is a regressive fraud. End the FICA tax. Welfarize SS no more giving bigger checks to those who paid in more. You cannot subsidize everyone, you cannot subsidize the rich and the middle class but you can can subsidize the poor if you try.

SO end the FICA tax!
To Union Guy
written by diesel, November 22, 2010 4:16
Rick Miller. If you read the history of the labor movement in the United States e.g.(Foner), you will find that labor has been, from the first days of our republic, on the defensive. From the beginning, capital and government have literally waged war on organized labor. Compared to the status unions have achieved in modern european social democracies, labor in the U.S. has a distinctly latin american flavor. You will never go far wrong in regarding the U.S. as occupying an intermediate status somewhere between modern european nations and south american military dictatorships. Except in some areas where we more nearly resemble poor African nations e.g. refusal to adopt the metric system and lack of universal healthcare.

It clarifies matters if you regard the U.S. as a fundamentally fascist-corporately owned nation. This is not hyperbole or cant. Unfortunately, the term fascist has a negative connotation in the U.S. lexicon. This is too bad because it is a useful term and describes a particular set of attitudes and behaviors. Since it has been purged from our vocabulary, we lack a concise intellectual concept to describe our position. Lacking intellectual clarity, we fail to identify our problems and stumble from one nonsolution to the next.

Fascists should not be ashamed to label themselves as such. They should be proud of what they are and display their pride by wearing some distinctive article of clothing that sets them apart from non-believers, such as an armband bearing a distinctive sign--like a teabag--or a jacket festooned with corporate logos.

As I said, when one informs themself of the history of organized labor in America, they will realize that labor will never get a fair shake in our textbooks and media.
written by warpal, November 23, 2010 12:06
Just watched you on Rose. You were great.

Jan Schakowsky is a blabbermouth. She completely disrespected you. You were the much more effective speaker and yet she hogged the time.

Undermined by your own.

written by warpal, November 23, 2010 12:12
Just checked.

Schakowsky's lobbyist hubby, Robert Creamer, was sentenced to 16 months for fraud.

Ahh, the Democratic party, such good people.
Need more empathy for the rich
written by Jack, November 23, 2010 1:40
Hugh Sansom writes, "Are the rich really so greedy that they can't bare any outcome that doesn't involves squeezing every last penny from those less fortunate?"

Do you guys realize the rich are NOT that happy with their life? The happy people are when their income around $75K.

The rich have such overbearing budget demands incl. million $ mortgage, baby-sitter come back to bit you (look at Meg), private jet, yatch, etc.

written by jwo, November 23, 2010 3:10
So Union Guy, you contend that because we do not like unions that makes us Fascists. Fascism is characterized by private ownership but government control of that means of production and worship of the state. Nazism brings in rabid nationalism.
written by Jeff Z, November 24, 2010 10:53

IWO - like defense contracting?

RE: Social Security, I get a statement once a year from the SSA that details my contributions, and how those are tied to my benefits. Sure, you can avoid the tax, but you give up the benefits entirely when you work completely under the table. I would guess that the vast majority of workers and employers attempt to obey they law as written, since penalties for non-payment can be thousands of dollars and ruined political careers.

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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.