This is what Greg Mankiw had to say in 2004 about one of the principal sources of our long-run fiscal imbalance--the fact that the Republican-created Medicare Part D was a spending program, a very large spending program, that made no provision at all for covering its costs:
Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003: The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, enacted in December, adds a prescription drug benefit to the Medicare program. The new drug benefit will give more Medicare beneficiaries access to prescription drug coverage and will provide benefits for individuals with limited means and low incomes. A prescription drug discount card will be available for beneficiaries until the full drug benefit is available nationwide.... The passage of the Medicare bill was a major accomplishment, but much remains to be done.... The U.S. health care system has provided tremendous benefits for both American citizens and the global community. New knowledge, innovative products, and life-saving medical procedures are the results of the U.S. market for health care. [President Bush's] proposed policies will help preserve the strengths of the U.S. market and will improve the efficiency and affordability of health care.
That is all that Greg Mankiw had to say in 2004 about Medicare Part D. No notice that it busted the long-run budget by creating an enormous expansion of long-run Medicare spending and making zero provision to ever pay for any of it. Not even a subordinate clause stating that the expansion of Medicare through the creation of Part D increases our long-run fiscal problems.
Greg Mankiw today writes:
The Day When the Debt Comes Due: The following is a presidential address to the nation — to be delivered in March 2026....
The seeds of this crisis were planted long ago, by previous generations. Our parents and grandparents had noble aims. They saw poverty among the elderly and created Social Security. They saw sickness and created Medicare and Medicaid. They saw Americans struggle to afford health insurance and embraced health care reform with subsidies for middle-class families. But this expansion in government did not come cheap. Government spending has taken up an increasing share of our national income.... If we had chosen to tax ourselves to pay for this spending, our current problems could have been avoided. But no one likes paying taxes. Taxes not only take money out of our pockets, but they also distort incentives and reduce economic growth. So, instead, we borrowed increasing amounts to pay for these programs. Yet debt does not avoid hard choices. It only delays them. After last week’s events in the bond market, it is clear that further delay is no longer possible. The day of reckoning is here....
When you elected me, I promised to preserve the social safety net. I assured you that the budget deficit could be fixed by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse, and by increasing taxes on only the richest Americans. But now we have little choice in the matter.
If only we had faced up to this problem a generation ago. The choices then would not have been easy, but they would have been less draconian than the sudden, nonnegotiable demands we now face. Americans would have come to rely less on government and more on themselves, and so would be better prepared today.
What I wouldn’t give for a chance to go back and change the past. But what is done is done...
It is important to notice that when Greg Mankiw writes "if we had chosen to tax ourselves..." and "they saw sickness and created Medicare..." and "we borrowed increasing amounts..." he is talking about himself and his fellow budget arsonists. He is not talking about President Clinton, Clinton's appointees, and Clinton's supporters--they sweated blood to cut spending below and raise taxes above the baseline and actually balanced the budget. He is not talking about President Obama, Obama's appointees, and Obama's supporters--Obama's excise tax on high-cost health plans and the supermajority entrenchment of the Medicare cut recommendations of the Independent Payment Authorization Board are (if they are not repealed) the largest acts of fiscal responsibility ever undertaken in America.
Mankiw is talking about President Reagan, his supporters, and his appointees. Mankiw is talking about President George W. Bush, his supporters, and his appointees. And--as one of George W. Bush's cabinet-level appointees, Chairman of the Presidents Council of Economic Advisers in 2003-2004--he is talking about himself.
Is it too much for me to expect, from him, an apology to America? A whispered: "I am sorry"? An admission that the unfunded 2001 tax cuts that he cheerled for were a mistake, and that we as a nation would have been better off had they not been passed? An admission that the unfunded 2003 tax cuts that he cheerled for were a mistake, and that we as a nation would have been better off had they not been passed? An admission that the unfunded 2003 Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit that he cheerled for was a mistake, and that we as a nation would have been better off had it not been passed?
Is that too much to ask?