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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press WAPO Runs Editorial on the Budget in News Section

WAPO Runs Editorial on the Budget in News Section

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Friday, 06 April 2012 05:45

It is well-known that the Washington Post is obsessed with the budget deficit and that it feels little need to restrict this obsession to the opinion pages (hence its nickname, "Fox on 15th Street"). It once again ran an editorial in its news section as it told readers about the country's "rocketing debt."

The editorial then asked:

"Why can’t America’s leaders, at the helm of such a wealthy country, find a solution that both puts the nation on a long-term path to financial security and preserves the vast array of vital services government provides?"

Of course the obvious answer is that there is no obvious reason that the country should be worried right now about writing down numbers on paper that show the nation will be on a "long-term path to financial security and preserves the vast array of vital services government provides."

The immediate problem facing the country are the tens of millions of workers who are unemployed or underemployed due to economic mismanagement by people like Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke. The question that all reasonable people should be asking is why America's leaders can't find a solution that will put these people back to work? After all, Keynes showed us how to restore an economy to full employment more than 70 years ago. The only reason that the country currently faces a large budget deficit and rising debt to GDP ratio is the economic downturn caused by the collapse of the housing bubble.

It is also worth reminding readers that the horror stories of exploding health care costs are entirely the result of the broken health care system in the United States. We spend more than twice as much per person on health care in the United States than in other wealthy countries. If we had the same per person health care costs as in other countries then we would be looking at enormous budget surpluses, not deficits. That is why serious people focus on the problem of health care costs, not budget deficits.

The piece also includes the assertion that:

"Economists say high debt levels can increase the risk of financial crises."

To make this more accurate the statement should say that:

"Economists who failed to see the last economic crisis say high debt levels can increase the risk of financial crises."

Comments (5)Add Comment
WAPO doesn't know about Budget For All?
written by Robert Salzberg, April 06, 2012 7:04
If the WAPO actually covered what's going on in Congress, they wouldn't be asking why aren't offering both financial security and vital government services. The Progressive Caucus's Budget For All does all that and more.

http://grijalva.house.gov/uploads/Executive Summary FINAL.pdf
...
written by Calgacus, April 06, 2012 5:30
"Economists say high debt levels can increase the risk of financial crises."

This is true, practically tautologically, if the debt referred to is private debt. But if sovereign government debt is referred to (note, not Eurozone state debt - they are not sovereign nations, but administrative divisions of the ECB empire) this is equally, practically tautologically false.

And of course this demented, preposterous, gross insult to ones intelligence, this raw sewage pumped into the water supply, is what the quackonomists and the WaPo mean. Government debt - AKA "money" - is what people pay their bills, their private debts with. If there's plenty of it out there, no problem paying their debts, no financial crisis.

This complaint about "rocketing debt" is thinking that if only the firemen would stop spraying your house with water, there would be no problem. After all, you never see a fire without these dirty rotten firemen.
First we kill all the silly hypotheses
written by Rachel, April 07, 2012 12:00
One reason we can't begin to cope with the high cost of health care is that so few people know (or want to admit) just why it is so expensive. Most people have been persuaded (often by interested parties) that the high costs come only from malpractice lawsuits, or lack of preventive care, or the insurance companies.

Of course there are anecdotes to convince the unsophisticated of the overriding importance all these claims. But careful studies show that these issues are all secondary to the main culprit: high salaries and high prices.

Thus, $31 is the price of an office visit to an MD in France, but it's $86 in the US (Source: IFHP Comparative Prices.) $500 for a CT scan in the US that would cost $220 in France (the difference multiplied by 60 million CT scans a year in the US). $1000 for an MRI, vs. 400 in France.

Unfortunately, too many people rely on advisors like those hired by the state of Vermont, for whom a stated priority was to keep doctors' incomes high, to the detriment (though they didn't mention it) of everyone else.
...
written by Paul, April 07, 2012 6:50
Right on, Rachel! You've hit the target in my opinion. Dean has made the same argument in his 'The end of loser liberalism', revealing the same dynamic in many other areas of the economy. I'm not suggesting that you're implying this, but for me this boils down to class interest. I haven't met a doctor who doesn't believe they deserve more for their hard work and hard won degree. Doctors are a professional class that are powerfully organized. They can get what they want. The trajectory for medical care in the U.S. means less work and more pay for them, why would they do anything but their damnedest to keep it on track?
Why indeed, Bobo.
written by Matt, April 07, 2012 11:29
"Why can’t America’s leaders, at the helm of such a wealthy country, find a solution that both puts the nation on a long-term path to financial security and preserves the vast array of vital services government provides?"


Bobo gets blind-squirel-finding-a-nut points here - the problem is largely in the answer to his question: "Because the GOP refuses to entertain tax increases of any sort."...

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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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