Monday, November 16, 2009

Katie reads a book!

And she can’t wait to tell us all about it; well, the one idea from it that stuck in her head, anyway. The book? Thomas Sowell’s The Vision of the Anointed.

Who is Thomas Sowell, Spotty?

Mr. Sowell, grasshopper, is a writer from the well-endowed sheltered conservative workshop known as the Hoover Institute, at least that’s where he was when he wrote his broadside against what he describes as the “elite liberal intelligentsia.” But enough about Sowell! Let’s get back to Katie’s book report.

Katie starts out with the question: unemployment is really bad, so why are we trying to fix health care?

Katie says it is because of the moral preening of liberals. As if conservatives give a rat’s ass about doing something about high unemployment!

Anyway, according to Katie, the President and the Dems in Congress feel all exalted and anointed, and here is where we find ourselves now:

For America's anointed, Sowell concludes, "reality is optional." Today, our nation can't afford such willful blindness. On the economic front, families' livelihoods are on the line. On the health care front, their lives are at stake.

Boys and girls, Spot took the time to quote that paragraph, so he hopes you will take some time and savor all the wild funniness in it.

First, who was the author of this statement? "That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act we create our own reality."

Hint: it wasn’t a Democrat.

And second, didn’t all or virtually all Republicans oppose Obama’s stimulus package? And they’re still carping about it. Even though some economists, including Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman, think it’s too small?

Only somebody with the class and skill of a Katie could take one thing she doesn’t care about and use it to complain about something else she doesn’t care about. That’s a true professional, boys and girls.

Katie wails about the “wild-eyed, budget-busting crusade” to reform health care we’re on. Spot is sure we can all agree that Katie makes commendable use of the hyphen in that phrase; the only thing missing was the alliteration that conservatives love so well.

Some of you are probably familiar with Brad DeLong, an economics professor from Berkeley. He writes a blog, and he said this recently about all the budget bleating:

  • In the short term, we don't have a deficit problem: as long as unemployment remains highly elevated--certainly as long as the unemployment rate stays above 7%--and as long as interest rates on U.S. Treasuries stay low a bigger federal deficit is a feature not a bug: our short-term deficit problem (and the short term lasts for most of Obama's remaining term) is that the deficit is too small, not too big.

  • In the long term, our deficit problem is a federal government health spending problem. Unless medical care cost growth is brought under control--and here the drivers are not factors specific to government programs, for private-sector medical expenditures are exploding at least as rapidly as Medicare and Medicaid--then excess medical cost growth will lead the federal government health programs to first devour the rest of the social insurance state in the years after 2020 and then devour themselves.

  • In the medium term between 2012 and 2020 we are, current projections tell us, on a sustainable budget path--with a budget deficit "no larger than the average of the past thirty years," as the Bush administration flacks used to tell us--with a stable debt-to-GDP ratio as long as output does not grow more slowly than projected and as long as congress observes PAYGO: as long as congress pays for whatever policy changes it makes.

The second paragraph of the DeLong quote is the most significant rebuttal of Katie’s budget hysterics. Health care is not a beast that will devour merely the federal budget; it is a beast that will devour national income if we don’t get it under control. The “market” has demonstrated time and time again that it won’t get the beast under control: it is the beast.

Update: Spot intended to emphasize the point that health care reform is about so much more than those durn tat-ses. Spot has pointed out several times that we pay more per capita for health care than any other industrialized (or non-industrialized, for that matter, of course) country. Often twice as much per capita, but with much less in coverage of our citizens. An OECD study out this year finds the United States near the bottom in many heath care outcomes. In fact, the study finds that our citizens are only first in one category: we think we have the best health care system in the world.

Yeah, we’re number one.

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