Links to what I’ve been reading.
The data showed that the biggest contributor to the disappearance of projected surpluses was increased spending, which accounted for 36.5 percent of the decline in the nation’s fiscal position, followed by incorrect CBO estimates, which accounted for 28 percent. The Bush tax cuts (along with some Obama tax cuts) were responsible for just 24 percent.
Thus it is simply wrong to only blame the Bush tax cuts for the deficits now faced by the country, especially three years into another presidential term.
Everybody gets to put their own spin on things, and this has become a common Republican meme over the past week or two. Unfortunately, it’s just factually false. Normally, a reduction in the payroll tax would indeed reduce contributions to the Social Security trust fund, but last year’s bill specifically made up for this loss from the general fund. The trust fund got every penny it normally would have, and all the proposals on the table this year do the same.
USA Today has an interesting piece on new Affordable Care Act benefits for Medicare patients kicking in. The most salient of these is probably closing the “donught hole” in eligibility for prescription drug coverage, but the more analytically interesting piece is that “about half of those with traditional Medicare, have gone in for a free annual physical or other screening exam since the rules changed this year because of the health care law.”
In modern times, the only other rich country that has undergone the kind of decline that now awaits us is Japan. Last November, I joined a visiting group of journalists speaking to ministers, economists and businesspeople to get an idea of what a lost decade looks and feels like.
A few years ago, I decided that it would be interesting to make a cheeseburger from scratch. Not just regular “from scratch,” but really from scratch. Like, I’d make the buns, I’d make the mustard, I’d grow the tomatoes, I’d grow the lettuce, I’d grow the onion, I’d grind the beef, make the cheese, etc.