health care reform
Two reports over the past two days by the most credible organizations that do budget analysis prove that, no matter what they say publicly, congressional Republicans don't actually give a damn about reducing the federal deficit or lower government spending.
Each report shows that, for the GOP, the deficit not only comes in no better than second every time, it's not really a serious consideration.
The first report, produced by the excellent analysts at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and released on Monday, shows that last August's GOP-induced fight over raising the debt ceiling increased federal borrowing costs, that is, spending on interest, by a minimum of $1.3 billion. Here's the money quote:
As I explain in my column from today's Roll Call, it says everything you need to know that, even by today's federal budget standards, Newt Gingrich's recent verbal attack on the Congressional Budget Office was absurd.
Take a look.
Newt Gingrich Wants to Kill the CBO Messenger
Former Speaker and current GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich might well have said that he wants to kill his personal physician because he didn’t like being told his blood pressure was too high.
But that’s the equivalent of what Gingrich did say during a recent debate, when he made it clear that the Congressional Budget Office has to be eliminated if health care reform is going to be repealed.
Stories like this one in the AP by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar are much of the reason why I doubt that any forward-looking reductions in the growth of entitlement spending will ever be implemented. Even when the reductions are part of the legislation, they are undone bureaucratically before they are implemented. This is just the "doc fix" all over again.
Millions of seniors in popular private insurance plans offered through Medicare will be getting a reprieve from some of the most controversial cuts in President Barack Obama's health care law. In a policy shift critics see as political, the Health and Human Services department has decided to award quality bonuses to hundreds of Medicare Advantage plans rated merely average.
I was on a bit of a blogging hiatus over the past few weeks -- anything interesting happen while I was gone? Part of the hiatus was to finish up work related to the end of Dartmouth's winter term, which had me teaching and grading more than usual. Part of the hiatus was a vacation. What I learned on vacation is that the TSA should outsource its staffing to Disney. Nobody is better at crowd control or the customer's experience. And part of the hiatus was to write up some ideas on entitlement costs and the design of programs.
The common wisdom in Washington over the weekend was that the offer made by the House GOP leadership late Friday to extend the continuing resolution for two weeks in exchange for $4 billion in spending cuts was a done deal. The common wisdom became even more commonly accepted when Senate Democrats indicated they were willing to go along with the plan.
But the presumed done deal may not be all that done after all. The tea party wing of the GOP in the House is not happy that the two-week extension doesn't unfund health care reform and is considering voting against the bill when it's debated later today or tomorrow.