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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press For Robert Samuelson Being an Adult Doesn't Include Taxing Rich People, Reining in Finance, or Controlling Health Care Costs

For Robert Samuelson Being an Adult Doesn't Include Taxing Rich People, Reining in Finance, or Controlling Health Care Costs

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Monday, 25 April 2011 05:22

Robert Samuelson decided to lecture President Obama on being an adult today. He wants President Obama to take big steps to reduce the budget deficit. Interestingly, all of the ways that Samuelson suggests for reducing the budget deficit, such as cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits or raising gas taxes, hurt middle income people. Apparently, this is Samuelson's view of what adults do.

Increased taxes on the rich are not on his list nor are taxes on financial speculation. These might seem obvious ways to reduce the deficit since the share of the wealthy in national income has increased by so much in the last decade as has the financial sector's share of total output. But Samuelson apparently does not believe that adults tax rich people or the financial industry. It also doesn't seem as though adults talk about cutting the military budget, since this doesn't come up in Samuelson's article either. Nor does constraining health care costs, which is by far the most important contributor to the country's projected long-term deficit problem.

In criticizing President Obama for not doing anything about the deficit Samuelson apparently has not noticed that if President Obama's health care reform is left in place it is projected to do a great deal to reduce future deficits. CBO's extended baseline shows spending, measured as a share of GDP, increasing by roughly 15 percent over the next 25 years, not the one-third claimed by Samuelson. This extended baseline assumes that the law is followed.


Comments (9)Add Comment
Adult Intersections are Responsible Intersections
written by izzatzo, April 25, 2011 6:21
First he apparently has not noticed that if President Obama's health care reform is left in place it actually is projected to do a great deal to reduce future deficit.


Samuelson also failed to notice that if left in place, traffic lights and stop signs at intersections are more efficient in controlling traffic than individual negotiations between responsible drivers to decide who goes through deregulated intersections first.
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written by gnat, April 25, 2011 6:54
To Sammuelson the deficit problem is one big lump. In reality there are three budgets: medicare/medicaid, social security and the genral fund. Both medicare and social security have dedicated taxes and are in balance. The general fund is not. It would be helpful if Sammuelson would explain why he his critcism at SS and Medicare/Medicaid when it is the general budget that needs to be balanced.
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written by vorpal, April 25, 2011 8:36
A week or two ago, Krugman had a piece on the role of taxes.

Given that the budget deficit is so large, why bother having income taxes at all? It seems to me that expenditures are just numbers on a sheet to give us some idea how much gdp is federal government operations. It really just an informative number.

The real effect of deficits is higher interest rates. Since those are so low, why bother with taxing at all? Maybe people resent federal taxes because at some gut level they don't see the justification for them.

Quite frankly, at an intellectual level I don't see any justification of them. I haven't seen anybody do the math. And that's a problem, because if there is one guy in the country that would read such a document, it is me (economics fan with an MS theoretical physics).
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written by vorpal, April 25, 2011 8:47
What I'm saying is, Samuelson's piece is an expression of the fact that economists haven't done their job. They haven't communicated the implications of a diverse set of tax policies, (because if I don't know them, then Joe Sixpack definitely hasn't a clue).

Since they have failed epically in their collective job, sad hacks like Samuelson fill the void. So Dean's peers have their share of blame for the existence of WaPo front page editorials and bottom feeding slugs like Samuelson.
More that budge cuts are required.
written by Joseph Mangiamele, April 25, 2011 10:13
Discussions involving budget and national debt never get to the point of pay down the debt. The present budge cannot be balanced without sufficient in-coming revenue. Reduced taxes do not produce additional revenue to help balance present budget.

Increased taxes may help next year's budget but unless we get a surplus, we cannot begin to pay-down debt.

We need a larger increase in revenue to achieve a surplus. That is not likely to happen. So what we need is revenue from another source in addition to taxes.

I believe that to be a govenment partnership with natural resources associated firms. There are billion to be there. And they are common resourses.

Any better ideas.
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written by vorpal, April 25, 2011 10:34
Why does the budget need to be balanced? Just because?

Maybe instead of taxes, people should be getting checks to help compensate for the loss of work to overseas. This would drive up inflation, but is that bad? Dean routinely says the worker needs a weaker dollar in order for jobs to return. Maybe, paying underemployed people would expedite the process and make the interim much more tolerable.

I don't see anybody whose actually thought this out in a modern quantitative fashion. All I see is hyperbolic rhetoric echoing in the idiot chamber called the media.
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written by urban legend, April 25, 2011 8:39
Samuelson seems less than worthless as an economics commentator. More like toxic.
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written by Calgacus, April 27, 2011 2:53
Samuelson also failed to notice that if left in place, traffic lights and stop signs at intersections are more efficient in controlling traffic than individual negotiations between responsible drivers to decide who goes through deregulated intersections first.

Who are you and what have you done to izzatso? Have you abducted him to stupid liberal headquarters?

Traffic lights are a liberal plot to cause uncertainty and accidents by limiting the perfect, efficient competitive equilibrium of the traffic marketplace, where the bold and strong SUVs lead the way for the lesser people's jalopies tailgating them by trickle down traffic theory.
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written by izzatzo, April 27, 2011 11:43
Calgacus, this is a DRM takedown notice. All satire on this blog is copyrighted. Either take it down immediately or send a check based on the added value of each utterance stolen or the economic rent gained, whichever is greater.

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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.

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