We should take a moment to open our ears to the crooning of conservatives, in particular to their repeated incantation that we have to cut healthcare spending in order to cut the debt. This is a formal invitation to regard this gloom and doom conservative scold as peddling ideological humbug.
“Humbug in May?” you might ask. Simply—yes.
It is fun to observe that the time when we need to increase the debt lid keeps slipping. Once it was May, then it was June, then it slipped into the fall. Why? Because the debt is coming down! There is growth in the economy, revenues are up and more people are employed. We are cutting the debt the old fashioned way, by growing the economy.
Unlike the Europeans, we have had at least some mild stimulus in the economy and a very expansionist monetary policy. It could be more and better, but the facts are putting the austerity campaign to shame.
What about the Sequester? Well, isn’t it simply making the sluggish recovery more sluggish? As the economy added 165,000 jobs last month, government employment fell by 11,000 and there are more losses to come. If we were to reverse the damned thing it would add to the stimulus and result in more debt reduction.
Yet the conservative ideologues still say we need to attack healthcare spending.
New York Times on May 6: “Slowdown in Health Costs’ Rise May Last as Economy Revives.” reported on a study by economist David Cutler at Harvard University discussing the slowdown in the increase of health care costs. “….given the dynamics of the slowdown, economists might be overestimating public health spending over the next decade by as much as $770 billion.” Those of you with access to Health Affairs can read all about it under the intriguing title “If Slow Rate Of Health Care Spending Growth Persists, Projections May Be Off By $770 Billion.”
That number, $700 billion may be familiar to you. During the great debate on how to cut some 4 trillion out of the federal budget it has been proposed that the health care portion of the budget pony up seven to eight billion in cuts.
This even before the savings within the Affordable Care Act take effect, and the lowered pharmaceutical costs in Medicare are implemented.
The ironical tone of this perspective may not be lost on readers given the frequency we hear the disaster scenarios being peddled, but the truth isn’t made by repetition, as the conservative megaphone would have us all believe.