٦/٠٢/٢٠٠٤

Denying ideology

Oftentimes when debates over public policy are undertaken, each side fails to reveal the ideology or belief system underlying their particular policy. The following quote from The New Republic is an excellent example of this:

"As Brad DeLong, Peter Orszag, and Bob Greenstein noted in a recent letter to TNR, the revenue loss due to tax cuts over the next 75 years is three times the Social Security deficit during that same period"

Assuming that this statement is true, my response is: so what. Part of the conservative mentality is that the federal government is not going to spend this money as wisely as it should. For instance, conservatives have long argued that there are substantial problems with welfare and that cuts in spending are necessary to mitigate these problems. If the federal government is in control of this money, they will spend it. On the other hand, if the money is in the hands of private enterprise, it will be used to increase long term growth.

Now that does not mean that we should have no welfare, that was never the argument. But the point of fact is that we can reform social security and medicare in such a way so as we can solve the problem without having to repeal the tax cut and give congress more money to waste. Delong does not agree with this philosophy, he is a liberal that believes the government should use this money to create a more proactive welfare system. That is fine, but he should realize that conservatives do not entirely share this philosophy and thus are not as worried about the revenue loss (in fact, it may actually be a good thing!)


Update
One legitimate criticism to this viewpoint is that the federal government does need this money to do an important function that it is currently not doing: providing equitable health care.

My response to this is that we can reform our health care system while also avoiding the perils of a command and control health care system ala Canada. Such a system is bureacratic and inefficient and not something that we need to have in this country.

As an alternative to this, I am interested in hearing more about the idea that Delong himself presents: make catastrophic health insurance mandatory via some sort of government subsidy.

http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2004_archives/000910.html

"But now the Kerry campaign has dusted off and brought forward a very clever idea from Brandeis's Stuart Altman to not eliminate but at least diminish the magnitude of these two ways that market-based health-care reforms self-destruct. The idea? Have the government take its task of social insurance seriously, and reinsure private insurers and HMOs: construct a 'premium rebate' pool to pay annual health-care bills over $50,000. This greatly diminishes the cost to insurers and HMOs of covering the really sick. The cost of treating the really sick will then be on the taxpayer rather than on the insurance-purchasing consumer. Insurance rates will fall. And the incentive for the young without many assets to go naked and uninsured will diminish as well."

Bush can adopt something along these lines, it's not really a liberal/conservative issue here.