Health Care and the Deficit

by Jason Peters on July 25, 2012 · 10 comments <span>Print this article</span> Print this article

in Short

In light of the Porch’s recent good luck—a PomoCon has been kind enough in the comments here to instruct us on the upcoming general election—it bears mentioning that the Congressional Budget Office has come out with a report claiming that the President’s health-care overhaul will in fact decrease the national deficit and that repealing the overhaul will actually increase it.

(In a surprising turn of events, tax-and-spend atheist Democrats have praised the report, whereas rape-and pillage devil-hating Republicans have condemned it and vowed to repeal the overhaul anyway.)

I say nothing for the moment of whether health care is the federal government’s business, only that the news is problematic for card-carrying Republicans, who, as Joe Bageant once put it, “honestly tell the world: ‘Listen in on my phone calls, piss-test me until I’m blind, kill and eat all of my neighbors right in front of my eyes, but show me the money! Let me escape with every cent I can kick out of the suckers, the taxpayers, and anybody else I can get a headlock on, legally or otherwise.’”

(To be fair to Bageant, I should add that he was an equal-opportunity destroyer: “Democrats, in contrast, seem content to catalog the GOP’s outrages against the Republic, showing proper indignation while laughing at episodes of The Daily Show. But they stand behind the American brand: imperialism. They ‘support our troops,’ though you will be hard put to find any of them who have served alongside them or who would send one of their own kids off to lose an eye or an arm in Iraq. They play the imperial game, maintain their credit ratings, and plan to keep the beach house and the retirement investments if it means sacrificing every damned Lynndie England in West Virginia.”)

Anyway, I do hope that as we inch closer to November several more right-thinking souls will deign to visit the Porch with additional advice from the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Republican Party.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Benjamin Nagle July 25, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Do the PomoCons support wars of choice, sending our military around the world to plant the meddlesome flag, and picking fights to maintain hegemony? It seems as if they rightly oppose the centralization of welfare power–but do they oppose the centralization of corporate power. There is, moreover, the minor issues of habeas corpus, the executive branch claiming the right to kill citizens, and the construction of a surveillance state to consider. Insofar as the Republican party supports all of these abysmal policies, Porchers–and pretty much anybody who wants to fight for the Jeffersonian tradition–has no partisan house in which to make their bed. If the homeless constituency continues to grow, maybe one of the parties will move in our direction.

Mitt Romney is rhetorically preferable on questions of federalism, but is a notorious liar that will do anything to gain power. President Obama is domestically terrible, but less likely to start a war with Iran. I don’t see how the PomoCons can claim its a clear choice. I’ll be voting third party to register my disgust with our corporate state loving alternatives.

avatar Will J July 25, 2012 at 11:00 pm

My understanding, at the time the health care law was passed, was that the CBO showed the law even then to reduce deficits. However, the law also included some legislative gimmicks that created an artificially good score, such as legislating larger than reasonable future cuts in Medicaid reimbursement rates (ending the so called “Medicaid patch” that gets passed every year). Thus, a law that created a huge amount of deficit spending could be passed off as deficit reducing. As I have not read the bill in its entirety, nor am I confident that I could understand it if I did, I welcome a more detailed analysis from more informed readers. However, I do hope my understanding of the law at least surpasses the rather low threshold of the average AP reporter.

There’s also the bare-bones but also surprisingly accurate sniff test method: “This law means the government is going to be directly funding healthcare related expenses for a LOT more people and not raising a ton of revenue to do it. Do I think that is likely to increase or decrease the deficit?” I’ve got to lean towards the former.

avatar Jeffrey Polet July 25, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Ha ha ha ha ha. That’s rich. Let’s give more people more of a particular good, and improve its quality, and it will be less expensive. OK.

avatar Albert July 26, 2012 at 3:22 pm

“The CBO said the law’s mix of spending cuts and tax increases would more than offset new spending to cover uninsured people.”

Do you know what the CBO projects for GDP in the next ten years? Tax revenue projections rely on GDP (growth), and I’d be curious as to how they expect the economy will do in the next ten years.

avatar Siarlys Jenkins July 26, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Jeffrey Polet said something sensible not too long ago, so I’m a little surprised at this trite attempt at one-dimensional humor.

Medical care deals with human beings, and the economy of human life is rather different than the economy of selling cars, or giving away free Twix bars.

I would have thought an astute and well-informed young man would be aware that a $1000 colonoscopy is cheaper than a $200,000 cancer treatment, a $700 check-up every two years is cheaper than a week in a hospital, or five visits to an emergency room…

Of course we could also save money by just letting people die if they have an expensive illness requiring surgery, and then the biannual check-up would be a reducible expense too. But you’ll have to deal with Sarah Palin and her death panels…

avatar Stephen July 27, 2012 at 3:08 pm

The reality is that neither party’s nominee represents Front Porch Republic’s motto well. (However, it is worth mentioning that the candidate who best promoted Limits and Liberty was running for the GOP nomination).

Both parties are in thrall to Big Business and/or Big Labor, and so give us policies that further centralize economic decisions and prop up the Wall Street kleptocracy. The leaders of both parties are still dedicated to American imperialism—the only clear difference between Bush and Obama so far is that Obama likes to bow to foreign princes, whereas Bush was more inclined to give them the finger. Obama has kept Guantanamo open, continued domestic surveillance, and claimed the authority to assassinate American citizens abroad without trial.

Romney is no adherent to “Small is beautiful”, but he has at least shown some capacity to make Big work well in his time leading the Olympics, Bain Capital, and Boston. Contrast him to our current bumbler-in-chief and I think he holds up better—neither candidate will make the changes to move our nation closer to the Porchervision, but Romney offers a better shot at helping tweak the system to help the republic last another four years.

avatar Siarlys Jenkins July 27, 2012 at 8:27 pm

It goes without saying that no major party candidate represents Front Porch’s motto or principles or analysis or anything else. If any did, the other party would be vilifying Front Porch Republic as the greatest hazard since the Rosicrucian menace.

But let’s talk about “Big Labor.” I think George S. McGovern was the first presidential aspirant to equate “Big Business” and “Big Labor.” But I have a longer term view. My great grandfather was, according to his daughter, my mother’s aunt, “an independent working man” who never really wanted to join the union. He always had some business of his own on the side. But, the day came when he realized that he couldn’t stand up as and independent workingman to the coal mine operators without the United Mine Workers of America. And he jumped in as an organizer.

Labor had to become Big because Business was Big. It was a slugging match. Unless Popeye eats his spinach, Pluto wins. Plutocracy, in this case. The regulatory aspect of Big Government is similar. Most corporations are too big and powerful for sovereign states to do anything but kneel at their feet and beg for favors.

There are problems with Big Labor and Big Government, of course. Labor unions can become a racket. But one of the big problems right now, according to labor leaders, is that they spend 40% of their resources defending people who damn well ought to be fired. Wy is that? Because of the Landrum-Griffin Act, intended to curb “Big Labor” and protect the rights of the individual union member. In the good old days, unions enforced strict standards of craft pride and quality standards. If you didn’t measure up, you were out of the union. Of course they also refused to admit men who were not “white.”

The biggest problem with Big Government is that Big Business inserts their own people into the regulatory agencies as “those with knowledge of the industry,” and then hire them back after their term of public service is over.

Small can be good. But beware the demagogue who speaks in the same breath of Big Business and Big Labor, especially if they extol the imaginary virtues of Bain Capital, while offering nary a word of praise for the United Farm Workers of America’s contract with Triple E Tomatoes in Stockton, California. Stockton needs more working families who can afford to buy a home and pay property taxes. The city is bankrupt.

Long live the Republic!

P.S. My great-grandfather, like John L. Lewis, was a life-long Republican.

avatar RiverC July 31, 2012 at 8:01 pm

I’m sort of amused you put white in quotes. It evoked the whole scene of explaining to a black guy why he couldn’t be in the union – when in the end there was no good reason at all; the guy at the desk looks up at the clock or out the window and sort of utters – like a man trying to talk through a cigarette, ‘yer, um, not white enough.’

Later, these same people would pass the Great Society.

avatar John Haas August 1, 2012 at 1:03 pm

I’m sure you recall that back in 1962 Ronald Reagan claimed that Medicare was a stalking horse for socialism, and would eventually lead to dictatorship.

Now, freedom-loving,anti-socialist, Tea-Party Republicans such as Jackie Walorski and Richard Mourdock are running on platforms promising to save Medicare from that nasty socialist PP & ACA.

Can we start a pool betting on the fututre date when a Republican first stands up to defend the ACA against some new socialist scheme?

avatar Siarlys Jenkins August 1, 2012 at 3:21 pm

River, I try to ALWAYS put “black” and “white” in quotes, to signify that these are artificial categories with no intrinsic meaning. Eventually we’ll have to throw them away. This caused some confusion with copy editors at OUP for a while, but I kept the quotation marks in, more often than not.

There was a young man in Minnesota around 1947 who applied to get into the bricklayers union. Technically, the by-laws offered membership to “white men of good moral character.” One older member at the meeting said “I’d like to ask that colored feller a question. Why do you wear red suspenders?” The answer was, like the later Bennett Cerf joke, “To hold up my pants.” The man with the question was satisfied. “He’s a smart feller, let’s admit him.”

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