Health Care Should Come First
After being critical of columnists when they get things wrong, I should also point out columns that adopt a reasoned position and provide useful information (though I may hold that view partly because I said the same thing here in January).
David S. Broder’s column on April 7, 2005 in the Washington Post discusses a paper by Dean Baker and David Rosnick of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research:
…Their skepticism attaches to the notion -- propounded by the Bush White House and accepted by most of the inhabitants of the political and journalism worlds -- that the Social Security system is in crisis.
…Baker and Rosnick are on solid ground in contending that the Social Security system is not the most endangered of our basic national institutions -- or the one most in need of drastic overhaul.
Last month they completed a paper that ought to be on the reading list of the White House policy office and the leadership of the House and Senate. It is called "The Burden of Social Security Taxes and the Burden of Excessive Health Care Costs."
…Others have made the point that the Medicare trust fund is in far more fragile condition than Social Security and is in need of more rapid rescue. The decision to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare, starting next year, did not solve the problem; it made it worse.
But it is more than Medicare that is spinning out of control. The Medicaid program, which pays for indigents and for long-term care, is bankrupting state budgets. Overall, Americans are paying more for health care than the people of any other advanced industrial nation -- and reaping fewer benefits, at least as measured by life-span statistics.
In a rational world, fixing health care would come first.
One slight correction. In a world with rational policy makers, fixing health care would come first.
Posted by Mark Thoma on Thursday, April 7, 2005 at 10:08 PM in Economics, Health Care, Social Security |
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