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Hullabaloo


Monday, December 03, 2012

 
Lindsay Graham's nesting dolls of lies

by David Atkins

Senator Lindsay Graham, the same one being stupidly celebrated by some liberals for sticking it to Grover Norquist, makes a statement of breathtaking dishonesty:

“I think we’re going over the cliff. It’s pretty clear to me they made a political calculation. This offer doesn’t remotely deal with entitlement reform in a way to save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security from imminent bankruptcy. It raises $1.6 trillion on job creators that will destroy the economy and there are no spending controls,” Graham said on CBS’s “Face The Nation.”
Let's see how many lies are nested in this neat little statement.

1) The White House has bent over backward to compromise with Republicans at every opportunity. The fact that we're even talking about deficits at all, to say nothing of cuts to basic social services at a time of multi-year recession and high unemployment is itself an extraordinary compromise. The fact that the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy haven't already been rescinded after two presidential elections in which the winning side made its position clear on them is itself a huge compromise already. If there's any political calculation at all, it's the Obama Administration's foolish calculation that voters will celebrate deficit reduction and the "adult in the room", rather than punish whatever political party is perceived to have cut Medicare in 2014 and 2016.

2) Social Security isn't broke. It's funded for 40 years even without raising the caps, which is the easy "fix." Bankruptcy for Social Security certainly isn't "imminent." To lump it in with Medicare is either madness or gross deceit.

3) Medicaid isn't broke. There is no such thing as Medicaid going broke. Rising Medicaid costs may, like any other budgetary item, put a crimp in state and federal budgets. But since it's not a program funded by beneficiaries on a dollar-to-dollar level like Medicare and Social Security, Medicaid can't "go broke" unless the federal government itself goes broke. Which is impossible since we have a sovereign currency. The very worst that can happen is an inflationary spiral. But Medicaid can't go broke.

4) Medicare isn't broke, either. It's funded for eight years, which is quite a long time as projections go given rising healthcare costs. The best way to extend the life of Medicare in the short term is to create cost savings from providers in the program. The best way to do it long-term is to extend the Medicare pool to younger and healthier patients. Another good fix would be allowing the federal government to negotiate drug prices. And even if Medicare did "go broke" at the end of eight years, all it would mean is a shortfall requiring some cuts to benefits. So in order to prevent the supposed disaster of benefit cuts eight years from now, we're proposing to cut them in advance?

To say nothing of the fact that it's insane to demand that Medicare "pay for itself," anyway, particularly as the population ages. We don't demand that our wars pay for themselves, or that oil subsidies do, or that farm subsidies do, or that tax cuts for the wealthy do. And those are the bad things. On the good side, we don't demand that NASA pay for itself or that AIDS prevention in Africa pay for itself. Some things are worth doing for their own sake, and funding from the federal treasury. Why in the world such health insurance for the elderly be any different?

5) Going back to the Clinton tax rates certainly wouldn't "destroy the economy." Forget the fact that rich people aren't actually job creators (consumers are, of course.) Most independent analysts believe it would have a minimal impact--especially the taxes on the wealthy. Recall that when we talk about going back to Clinton rates on the wealthy, we're talking about people who make $21,000 every month whining about paying a 4% higher rate on their last couple of thousand dollars. We're talking about people who rake in $50,000 every month paying a 4% higher rate on only the second half of that money. It's preposterous to believe that that would have much economic impact at all.

6) Spending controls? Is this a citizen initiative process? Senator Graham may not realize that he's a legislator in the U.S. Congress. Congress controls how the money is spent, with some minor input from the Executive Branch. That Senator Graham doesn't seem to understand that he and his fellow 534 fellow legislators on Capitol Hill are the spending controls, we're in bigger trouble he realizes.

The only part of Senator Graham's statement that isn't an obvious, easily refuted lie is the notion that we're actually going over the fiscal cliff. Good.

I hope he's right about that one. Glory hallelujah.


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