William Galston Says Obama Must Pivot Toward Hooverism
The Obama Administration Goes Off-Message Again...

Writing for National Review Has Rotted Avik Roy's Brain

Does he have no true friends? I think an intervention is called for. If we can get him out of the toxic intellectual environment of that culture of ignorance, perhaps he can still be saved...

Avik Roy:

The Pledge to America on Health Care: [T]he Pledge says almost nothing about the biggest and most difficult questions in health policy: Medicare and Medicaid reform. It criticizes PPACA’s “massive Medicare cuts” without offering an alternative solution... promises that Republicans “will make the decisions that are necessary to protect our entitlement programs for today’s seniors and future generations. That means requiring a full accounting of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, setting benchmarks for these programs and reviewing them regularly, and preventing the expansion of unfunded liabilities.” About as bracing as a glass of milk.

But perhaps it would have been unrealistic to expect more. Democrats have engaged in their fair share of entitlement demagoguery, which is likely to intensify as we get closer to the election. Up to this point, the President has not shown a serious interest in entitlement reform...

Let us look at Figure A-3 from the Congressional Budget Office's Long Term Budget Outlook--the CBO's projections of what the budget balance will look like for the next seventy years if the economic forecast is fulfilled and if congress sticks to PAYGO:

http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/115xx/doc11579/06-30-LTBO.pdf

Back in 2009 the CBO projected the emergence after 2025 of a large structural gap between primary spending and revenues as the health programs grew to take over the world, and projected a federal debt held by the public that hit 200% of GDP before 2070--even if congress did nothing to violate PAYGO.

Today the CBO projects that the public debt will stay below a year's GDP until all of us now full-grown are dead.

Why? Because of two "entitlement reforms" by Obama: the IPAB that puts a brake on the growth of Medicare costs, and the excise tax on high-cost health plans that raise revenue.

Rather than saying "the President has not shown a serious interest in entitlement reform," it would be closer to the truth for Avik Roy to say: "Obama did entitlement reform through the PPACA, and I did not notice."

Indeed, the fact that Avik Roy--and lots of other people--did not notice what current law plus PAYGO implies is what leads Doug Elmendorf at the CBO to fear that the policies enacted in the PPACA will not stand, and leads him to present an Alternative Fiscal Scenario in which the cost-containing and revenue-raising portions of the bill are repealed in fairly short order.

It is a fair criticism of Obama to say that his entitlement reforms may not last. It is not a fair criticism to claim that they were not done--or that he has "not shown a serious interest."

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

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