The Four Fiscal Fantasies

Jon Cowan and Jim Kessler from the Third Way think tank have just written a new article, “The Four Fiscal Fantasies”, in which they address our country’s current fiscal situation from a point of view which is sympathetic to, but critical of, the left.

  • Fantasy #1:  Taxing the rich solves our problems.
  • Fantasy #2:  We can have it all.
  • Fantasy #3:  Waiting is benign.
  • Fantasy #4:  The politics get better.

These four fantasies are fairly self-explanatory.  The solution they propose for the long term insolvency of Social Security is an at least partial lifting of the FICA cap as well as chain-weighting of the CPI.  These are both good ideas.
Their solution to looming Medicare insolvency is to trim costs in the current program with, for example: bundled payments, medical homes for end-of-life, a permanent fix for the Sustainable Growth Rate (doc fix), reducing duplicative care, increasing provider coordination, etc.  This however is a band aid approach to getting Medicare costs under control.  We need far greater and more fundamental changes in our entire healthcare system, public and private.  Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Avik Roy have a plan to do this which I have discussed in my June 5, 2013 blog post, “Free Market Healthcare in America”.
With respect to discretionary spending in the federal budget, Mr. Cowan and Mr. Kessler propose several specific budget cuts in order to boost spending for other programs for kids, science, research, curing disease, infrastructure, etc.  Savings in one area would be spent on investments in other areas rather than being used for reducing the deficit.
To me this whole program represents a step in the right direction even though it does not come close to all of the changes that will be needed to shrink the deficit down to zero.  If national Democratic leaders would propose this sort of a program, it would force Republican leaders to take it seriously and would therefore break the current logjam in Congress.

2 thoughts on “The Four Fiscal Fantasies

  1. Why in the world would you expect the Republicans to accept ANY plan that was put forward by the Democrats? They have already nixed plans that they originally proposed, when proposed by Democrats.

  2. Granted that many people on both sides are locked into highly partisan positions, and reflexively reject anything the other side proposes, nevertheless there are many others, and not just independents, who are truly looking for solutions to our fundamental fiscal and economic problems. They want good faith proposals from both sides. These are the people I am trying to reach out to. If one side takes a step towards the middle, then I’m confident there will be people on the other side who will respond in a similar way and many voters will take notice.

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