Monday, March 22, 2010

Still more on health care

The Economist's Democracy in America blog on bipartisanship in the aftermath. I am puzzled at the quote from Russ Douthat who appears to believe that some democrats think the health legislation will actually reduce the deficit. I give the democrats credit for more intelligence than that; really, they are just lying on this one. That is what politicians (and advocates) often do. I think the democrats have in mind a sort of reverse of the Republican idea (long since empirically disproved) that if you cut taxes, eventually spending must fall. Instead, the democrats hope that if you expand spending enough, eventually taxes must rise.

Doug Holtz-Eakin in the NYT on the budgetary misrepresentation underlying the health legislation. Doug deserves a lot of credit for doing policy work rather than cashing in on his Rolodex (for the young ones, a device for holding phone numbers written on paper and business cards). The opportunity cost he is paying is a large one.

Finally, Jay Cost on the potential political vulnerabilities of the legislation. A lot could change between now and the time the real spending kicks in, but I suspect that the Republicans and their Blue Dog friends will not be able to accomplish much in the way of rolling back the legislation. Most of what needs to be done the Republicans have spent months opposing, though there could be progress on the minor issue of tort reform. The bottom line is that once people have their subsidies, they are very hard to really ever take away, particularly when the recipients are well organized and politically powerful, as with hospitals, drug companies and doctors. Just look at the farmers, the great welfare queens of the hills and prairies.

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