August 21, 2012

MITT, MAN OF PASSION?:

Guide for the Perplexed (DAVID BROOKS, August 20, 2012, NY Times)

A study by Jessica Perez and others at the group Third Way lays out the basic facts. In 1962, 14 cents of every federal dollar not going to interest payments were spent on entitlement programs. Today, 47 percent of every dollar is spent on entitlements. By 2030, 61 cents of every noninterest dollar will be spent on entitlements.

Entitlement spending is crowding out spending on investments in our children and on infrastructure. This spending is threatening national bankruptcy. It's increasing so quickly that there is no tax increase imaginable that could conceivably cover it. And, these days, the real entitlement problem is Medicare.

So when you think about the election this way, the crucial question is: Which candidate can slow the explosion of entitlement spending so we can devote more resources toward our future?

Looking at the candidates through this prism, you see that President Obama deserves some credit for taking on entitlement spending. He had the courage to chop roughly $700 billion out of Medicare reimbursements. He had the courage to put some Medicare eligibility reforms on the table in his negotiations with Republicans. He created that (highly circumscribed) board of technocrats who might wring some efficiencies out of the system.

Still, you wouldn't call Obama a passionate reformer. He's trimmed on the edges of entitlements. He's not done anything that might fundamentally alter their ruinous course.

When you look at Mitt Romney through this prism, you see surprising passion. 

Posted by at August 21, 2012 4:13 PM
  

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