From the Economist’s View:
Just two weeks ago, the deficit was the great evil, and all the VSPs insisted that we needed fiscal austerity now now now. Then, magically, a big tax cut — increasing federal debt by more than the original Obama stimulus, and substantially raising the probability of making unaffordable tax cuts permanent — was the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Why, it’s almost as if all the concern about the deficit was a front for opposing anything progressives might want, to be dropped as soon as debt was being run up on behalf of conservative goals. But that can’t be true, can it?
Many Republicans are still playing starve the beast. The next step for the GOP is to use the deficit problems that are created by the tax cut legislation as evidence that government spending is out of control. The biggest target for cuts will be social insurance programs. I wonder how many people realize that the revenue loss from the tax cuts will be more than three times the shortfall in Social Security (the tax cuts to those making over $250,000 alone would eliminate the Social Security shortfall)?
From the AFL-CIO Now Blog:
by Mike Hall, Dec 15, 2010
Here’s more evidence that the past decade has been very, very good for the health insurance industry and more insight into why Big Insurance fought so hard to derail health care reform, especially the new law’s requirement that companies actually spend premium dollars on health care.
Family health insurance premiums more than doubled between 1999 and 2009, far outpacing the growth in workers’ earnings and overall inflation, reports the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Those premium dollars fueled nearly annual levels of record profits along with outrageous CEO salaries and extravagant executive perks and bonuses.
From Kaiser Health News:
By Bara Vaida and Christopher Weaver
Dec 01, 2010
It’s official. The drug industry’s chief lobbyists – the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America – raised and spent at least $101.2 million in 2009 on advocacy efforts during the contentious health care debate, according to IRS documents the group filed in mid-November.
Former PhRMA CEO Billy Tauzin says the lobby used the money – special contributions from member companies – for broadcast and print advertising, grassroots and direct lobbying, polling and consulting. Tauzin, who has a two-year contract to advise PhRMA’s new leader, recently opened his own DC-based lobbying shop with his son Tom.
The former Republican Louisiana lawmaker was sweetly rewarded. He pulled down a $2.1 million salary, as well as a bonus of $2.3 million in 2009, according to the tax filing. Including other benefits, Tauzin’s total compensation was $4.6 million, just up from his $4.4 million the year before.
From Kaiser Health News:
James C. Capretta, Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center
Nov 22, 2010
Last year, Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap” — his far-reaching plan to restore long-term budget balance through tax and entitlement reform — was the subject of relentless attacks by those favoring a larger government role in American life. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called Ryan the “Flimflam Man” in a widely cited opinion piece in which he tried to dismiss the Roadmap as not a credible solution to the nation’s budget problems. The congressional Democratic leadership followed up with an organized campaign aimed at demonizing the plan as a callous assault on Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries. Their clear intention was to use the Roadmap to damage scores of Republican candidates for House and Senate seats by association.
None of it worked. In fact, not only did the Roadmap survive the 2010 mid-term campaign, the election results — and the dominoes that have fallen since — have made it far safer politically for Roadmap proponents to advance the plan’s ideas in the public square.
In the “hypocrite accountability” files: a letter is circulating around the House suggesting that Republicans who want to cut health care should reject their own government-funded health care, too. Drafted by New York Rep. Joe Crowley, the letter points out that Republican calls for health care repeal are a sham:
“If your conference wants to deny millions of Americans affordable health care, your members should walk that walk,” Crowley writes in a letter to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Read more
Posted on Thursday, November 18, 2010 @ 07:51 AM
From UTNE Reader:
By David Doody
Revenues and Spending Excluding Interest, by Category, as a Percentage of Gross Domestic Product Under [Congressional Budget Office’s] Long-Term Budget Scenario.*
Economist Robert Reich and Mother Jones blogger Kevin Drum agree on the proposal put forth by co-chairmen Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson last week to reduce the federal budget deficit. They agree that they disagree with it, that is. Or they at least disagree with where the report places its emphasis.