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August 25th, 2009
11:59 PM ET

Deficits: Why they threaten health reform – and what Obama might do

David Gergen | Bio
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Political Analyst

If you were sitting in the White House, it is entirely understandable that you would decide to unveil the surprise announcement of Ben Bernanke’s reappointment today: that may be the best and only way to divert attention from other economic news that is eye-popping.

The Bernanke appointment will be welcomed in financial circles, both here and overseas, because he is widely seen as the man who stopped us from going over a cliff. While some in Congress remain relentless critics of Bernanke, President Obama will generally win high marks for a reassuring move.

Strikingly, this is the third time in recent years that a president of one party has reappointed the head of the Federal Reserve first selected by a president of the other party: Ronald Reagan reappointed Paul Volcker, a Carter appointee; Bill Clinton reappointed Alan Greenspan, a Reagan appointee; and now Obama is reappointing a George W. Bush appointee. All of the choices have been seen as wise at the time.

Yet even the Bernanke story cannot fully deflect attention from the other economic story engulfing the administration today: its official announcement of new economic projections – in particular, its acknowledgment that deficits over the coming decade will be even higher than it said only three months ago. Now, the administration is predicting that instead of $7 trillion in new deficits, the country will rack up a staggering $9 trillion in new deficits for the 2010-2019 period. (The Congressional Budget Office has published its own numbers today that are largely parallel.)

Deficits of that magnitude would be extraordinarily dangerous and irresponsible for the country. They would double the national debt, risk much higher inflation, saddle future taxpayers with annual interest payments of over $900 billion, make us even more reliant upon China as a creditor, and over time would weaken us as a great nation. Talk about trend lines that are unsustainable!

Health care reform was already in growing trouble before this report. These deficit projections clearly add another significant threat to its passage. The administration will now have to persuade Congress and a skeptical public that it would be financially prudent to embark upon an ambitious new entitlement program in the teeth of dangerously growing deficits.

As vital and as morally right as it is to extend health insurance to everyone in need, the public is also wise to worry about the costs of robust reform. People have long memories, and they will recall that when Medicare was passed in the mid-1960s during the LBJ years, the House Ways and Means Committee projected that Medicare would cost about $12 billion in 1990; in 1990, it reportedly cost some $107 billion.

When Washington enacted prescription drug reform in the George W. Bush years, the administration put a price tag on it of $400 billion over nine years; new estimates have projected a cost of $724 billion over nine years. More recently, Massachusetts has embraced a health reform plan that is widely hailed – and serves as a model for the national effort this year – but it, too, has far outstripped original cost estimates.

In view of all this, President Obama has a choice. He can push forward with health reform efforts, giving short shrift to these deficit concerns. If so – if he continues to insist that Washington is just too “wee-weed up” - he will find that some of his strongest allies will become more reluctant on a big health reform bill this year.

Or he can come to grips with these grim forecasts and present to the nation a credible, comprehensive plan for reining in long-term deficits before Congress acts on health reform. The second path demands more courage – and is also the one of real leadership.

soundoff (186 Responses)
  1. Bill

    Obama's primary legacy on his current course will be the destruction of the dollar. And perhaps relegating the US to the ranks of latin American style third world debtor nation. The guy needs a clue – cut costs & fast

    August 26, 2009 at 11:51 am |
  2. Susan

    David

    Your Extreame Challenges, Healthcare program was very well done.
    As was discussed in that program, things always cost much more then originally proposed, thus adding a huge amount to an already out of control deficit. Why can't we deal with the uninsured first? We can also squeeze the fraud, abuse and waste out of the system as this will not cost anything. As the economy improves we can then purpose changes over a period of time to the healthcare system as a whole. Just my thoughts !!!!

    Thanks for your comments !!!!

    August 26, 2009 at 9:58 am |
  3. beatrice

    About health reforms,

    I heard people criticizing Obama for taking vacations. Good for him! I hope he rests and come back with a lot of energy and fight for health reforms!

    I was thinking that maybe he could fight later for Americans to have more vacations! :-))))) (My sister who lives in France and has 5 weeks vacation a year makes fun of me, having only 1!!!!)
    So they can travel more and open up to what other countries have achieved concerning their health care! mmmm....and then I am thinking that it might not work! There is too much arrogance!

    August 26, 2009 at 9:47 am |
  4. John Murphy

    Everyone talks about national debt but never mentions personal debt.

    What about the people who suffer and die because they either don't have insurance (15%)? What about those who have insurance but not enough to cover NEEDED treatment(21%)? Beyond that, what about the 1,000,000 Americans who go bankrupt from medical bills?

    Americans are great at making up mythical stories about rationing in other countries. American myths about foreign health care are 98% false, but Americans never mention the rationing that occurs in the American system.

    Insurance companies denying claims is RATIONING! Insurance companies denying coverage or cancelling coverage when a person gets too sick is RATIONING. Transplant committees arbitrarily denying transplants based on psychosocial interviews, which means if they have `social value` is RATIONING.

    August 26, 2009 at 8:11 am |
  5. Matt

    It amazes me how foolish so many of you are. We NEED Health Care reform. We NEED to fix this problem.

    You hate Obama's plan, create another one. Get the Indepedents or the GOP to create an alternative. They won't. Do you know why? Because the insurance company's have them in their back pocket. Blue Cross/Blue Shield doesn't want it. They don't want to lose their monopoly. They LOVE watching people die so they don't have to pay out on claims.

    The government is not great. It messes a lot of things up, but this is already broke. It's for me more of a question of who is better off in the end: the insurance company's, or the people who need care?

    Cut the defecit. Return us to the era of Clinton surplus, but NEVER say we did the right thing if we let Health Care reform die.

    August 26, 2009 at 8:10 am |
  6. john

    What is the cost of not reforming the Heath Care System? If we can fund wars we can fund health care.

    August 26, 2009 at 7:53 am |
  7. BEVans

    Now is NOT the time for healthcare reform...why do you think it is a good idea to revamp an entire system for 4% of the population...why do you think this is a good plan when Unions and politicians are not partaking in this...why do you think this is a good plan when no one understands what the bill encompasses....adding more to the deficit is adding more fuel to the already out of control fire..contradictory to Biden, spending more does not help get us out of debt.

    August 26, 2009 at 7:23 am |
  8. Tanesha Allen

    Regardless of what the U.S. citizens think, the president is still going to do what ever he think will help our economy. But personely I think its a bad idea because were already in a recession and all this health care plan is going to do is make the government spend more money that we need. An if Obama decides to go through with the health care plan the government might have to raise taxes to get them out of this one. Also why would they do this and its a lot of people losing there health care today. I just pray that Obama no what he's doin and hopefuly it doesn't mess up the economy more. Tanesha ( God Bless)

    August 26, 2009 at 7:09 am |
  9. Tanesha Allen

    Regardless of what the U.S. citizens think, the president is still going to do what ever he think will help our economy. But personely I think its a bad idea because were already in a recession and all this health care plan is going to do is make the government spend more money that we need. An if Obama decides to go through with the health care plan the government might have to raise taxes to get them out of this one. Also why would they do this and its a lot of people losing there health care today. I just pray that Obama no what he's doin and hopefuly it doesn't mess up the economy more.

    August 26, 2009 at 7:06 am |
  10. Tanesha Allen

    Regardless of what the U.S. citizens think, the president is still going to do what ever he think will help our economy. But personely I think its a bad idea because were already in a recession and all this health care is going to do is make the government spend more money that we need.

    August 26, 2009 at 6:46 am |
  11. Tanesha Allen

    Regardless of what the U.S. citizens think, the president is still going to do what ever he think will help our economy. But personely I think its a good idea because people will pay for health care, so there for we wan

    August 26, 2009 at 6:41 am |
  12. truthislove45

    The Devil comes to kill steal and destroy/Obama supports murder of the unborn/he supports depriving citizens of liberties under the guise of healthcare/he supports the elderly die (don't be deceived that he doesn) sounds like Obama is employed by Satan. Seek Jesus Christ for true change! Because Obama is short changing a man preaching being moral when per Gods word Obama is a godless man. HYPOCRITE!

    August 26, 2009 at 6:20 am |
  13. J.V.Hodgson

    Covering 47m Americans costs money, certainly in the medium term say 5 years. After that there are many economic benefits of the plans concept as outlined by Obama.
    The point is do nothing and the premiums will rise forcing more to become uninsured and the 47m grows... that is a real economic disaster.
    The whole Amrican social security system is projected to be in increasing deficit, and even bankrupt.
    It is simply a choice of the lesser of two evils, and its irrelevant ( or should be) whichever party you support... Go figure!!
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    August 26, 2009 at 4:55 am |
  14. Belle

    Actually it is laughable that the "government" touted option by my fellow Democrats would be able to reduce health care costs.
    1. They obviously have not read HR 3200. I have.
    2. There is no tort reform whatsoever in the bill.
    3. They forget the "back room" deal Obama made with Pharma, which was an agreement not to lower costs on drugs...so there will be NO lowering of pricing.
    4. HR 3200 is Unconstitutional. Neither the Legislative or Executive Branch of Government have the power to dictate to Americans they must buy something.
    5. No where in the bill does it say "This plan is optional".
    6. No where in the bill does it allow for Private Insurance to compete in all 50 states, so obviously there is NO competition.
    7. HR 3200 does NOT allow anyone to sue the Government for "Price Fixing."
    8. The Post Office is not in it for money...and is facing a 7 Billion dollar shortfall. (Government Run)
    9. GM is not on the stock market as a listing anymore. (Government Run)
    10. Medicare/Medicaid going Bankrupt (Government Run)
    11. America going bankrupt (Government Run)

    Perhaps it really is time to audit the Private Company called the Federal Reserve. I would like to know where all of the TARP and Stimulus money went.

    August 26, 2009 at 4:39 am |
  15. cottonmouth

    w six, seems like you left out the best parts in your game of stats

    2009 (1,787) Bil deficit
    2010 (1,481) Bil deficit
    2011 (921) Bil deficit
    2012 (590) Bil deficit

    Yep that's twice the deficit Mr. Obama will run up in half the number of years. Please, these facts are easily obtainable on the CBO web site. There is no way around theses number, the deficits Mr. Bush put up pale in comparison to Mr. Obama's spendathon. Oh and that's not including his Trillion dollar health care deforms.

    Like many democrats, he's better at getting elected than performing. But some, we knew that, e.g. no distinguishing professional achievements, no distinguishing legislative achievements at either the state or federal level. Simply put Mr. Obama is in above his pay grade. Just as in Congress, he makes speeches but is incapable of producing real policy.

    August 26, 2009 at 4:17 am |
  16. Ken, Centreville, VA

    Interesting conundrum: Deficits threaten health care reform. But, the absence of health care reform threatens higher deficits.

    It's a simple fact that our health care is ridiculously over priced:

    US – Cost of health care per capita: > $7000.00, Average life span: 78

    Japan – Cost per capita < $3000.00, Average life span: 86 (highest in the world)

    Oh, by the way, Japan has public funding as part of their system.

    Enough with the demagoguery and attacking the president for taking decisive actions to prevent an economic collapse.

    The solutions to the health care mess are staring us right in the face, and, no, the private sector is *not* the answer. They had their chance and all they've done is cut service and gouge the insured, for decades.

    Interesting that David Gergen dispenses this advise after having served in the Reagan adminstration, when the National Debt was nearly tripled in 8 years. ( x 2.7)

    August 26, 2009 at 4:09 am |
  17. Libby

    Anderson Cooper, you do know that gays will suffer the most if Obama's health care is passed, right. Who are the least needed people in society?
    Those who are at risk for expensive health care and those who have the least to contribute.

    So are you really encouraging this Bill?

    August 26, 2009 at 3:45 am |
  18. grammarian

    Then raise taxes. If spending is necessary . . . but deficits are bad . . . then there's no choice but to bring in more revenue. That's polite talk for more taxation.

    August 26, 2009 at 2:50 am |
  19. nea

    Some of you erks me when you start talking about the national debt what do this country suppose to do suffer as far helping people get on their feet ? Just like the stimulus package that contribute to it suppose it would nerve have been passed what would the unemployed do about extended uemployement then or other programs that was provided with the stimulus if this never had been passed the many of you thats complaing now would have your lip drooping mad at the President even more. And please dont forget that G. W. Bush did contribute as well with the wars as well as tax cuts for the rich and i bet none sent their rebate checks back and say they didnt want it because its increasing the debt.

    August 26, 2009 at 2:17 am |
  20. Paula

    Mr. Gergen,
    In general I tend to agree with your well-reasoned approach to finding solutions for complex problems. In this particular case, I understand your concern about undertaking health care reform prior to addressing the deficit. On the surface, it does seem that it would be a no-brainer to make sure that old debt is taken care of before new debt is incurred.
    There are two reasons that I disagree with you this time.
    First, the deficit will actually increase more if we do not have some health care reform. According to a 2009 Commonwealth Fund report, "...insurance premiums have been rising much faster than income across states. As a result, by 2008 total premiums—including employee and employer shares—equaled or exceeded 18 percent of the average household income for the working age population in 18 states, compared to just three states in 2003. In three states—Mississippi, Tennessee and West Virginia—family premiums averaged 20 percent or more of middle household incomes for the state’s under-65 population. The stress on businesses and families is particularly acute in Southern and South-central states, where premiums are often high, yet incomes are lower than national averages. In addition, employees are often paying more for less, because as costs rise employers have increased patient cost-sharing while limiting benefits."
    Second, there is a moral issue related to not addressing health care reform that, I believe, outweighs the fiscal issues. How do we as a people say to our fellow countrymen that if they cannot afford health care, then they will simply not get health care. Too bad if you can't afford insurance, too bad if your insurance drops you after you've maxed out due to a catastrophic illness, too bad if your spouse has a preexisting condition, so sad about the 60+% of bankruptcies that involve medical costs/illness, what a pity that one in 13 White children is uninsured, compared to one in five Latino children, one in five American Indian children, one in eight Black children, and one in nine Asian/Pacific Islander children. Too bad too, that (according to the Children's Defense Fund), the broken child health and mental health system is a major feeder system into the Cradle to Prison Pipeline for hundreds of thousands of minority children each year. The CDF summarized a recent report from the Baker Institute: (the) "bottom line is that extending health insurance coverage to all children in the United States would be relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of letting children remain uninsured and would yield economic benefits that are greater than the costs...An ounce of prevention is far more cost-effective than a pound of crisis care when children get sick or into trouble, drop out of school, or suffer family breakdown."

    August 26, 2009 at 2:15 am |
  21. Mohammed Chawla

    We can not, at this time, afford spending trillions on Healthcare and Cap & Trade. The country is on the brink of insolvency and cramming these programmes down our throats will push us over the cliff.

    We as a nation, need to take a breather.

    Concentrate on economic recovery, job creation, get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan. That will help in reducing the National Debt.

    Once the house is in order, we may go back and revisit some of these problems.

    August 26, 2009 at 1:42 am |
  22. Freedom Fan

    "I am a professional economist and a professor of political economy..."
    -Harold R. Chorney

    Keynesians like you and krugman are synaptically crippled. With guys like you teaching our kids no wonder the West has become ignorant of history and economically illiterate.

    The only purpose for a What-Me-Worry? keynesian is to give "intellectual" cover to free-spending, incontinent politicians. You ivory tower fools get the glory; our kids get the bill.

    August 26, 2009 at 1:22 am |
  23. sammie walker

    It is always amuses me when someone (like Gergen) assumes like health care reform is somehow unrelated to the mounting federal debt. After all, the skyrocketing cost of health care is the biggest driver of the federal deficits and debt. We have to enact sweeping health care or the economy will fall off a cliff.

    August 26, 2009 at 12:44 am |
  24. Mike

    What is going on truly, truly troubles me to the point of despair, for my family, our freedoms and for my country. To me, it goes way beyond fiscal irresponsibility...it is a calculated, deliberate, incremental dessicration and destruction of all we hold dear. This is death by a thousand cuts for America. We have been sold a bill of goods that was not as advertised. All of our choices stunk, but the man we picked to lead our country is hell bent on destroying it. Look at who his friends are, folks. Didn't we learn from our parents that you can judge a man by the company he keeps? How many of us chose to ignore the facts and are now crying because we were lied to and deceived beyond our wildest imaginations? I have never felt so hopeless.

    August 26, 2009 at 12:32 am |
  25. Chris

    Rick in Texas said:
    "If the entire health care system, went public, then government would be able to contain costs, by setting medical salaries, by setting fair drug prices (everyone knows that drug prices in this country are excessive), and by taking the profit motive away from hospitals."

    Rick, that was a genuine comment even though I TOTALLY disagree!
    If Government contains costs then that means they'll decide how much gets spent and who it gets spent on... Do you really want to go see a government bureaucrat for approval before your doctor can operate on you?

    If Government controls medical salaries, how many people will want to become brain and heart and lung and ER surgeons? Oh, and also, I know several doctors who after taxes and paying for their employees actually make about $50,000 a year. Is that a high medical salary? Most doctors are doctors because they want to help people.

    If we set drug prices, we take away any and all motive for a company to spend billions to research, develop, and patent a new drug... so that's not a good idea to set controls on prescription prices because it will only limit our future prescriptions. Do you want to take 1970's prescriptions or the medicines of today? Where did all those new prescription medicines come from the last 30 years? They came from innovation from these prescription drug companies. I agree prices are too high, but we can reform things rather than limit our future medical breakthroughs by government price controls! I don't want to be taking the same medicines 30 years from now because we started controlling prices for prescriptions, which will only lead to less money to research and develop better medicines in the future!

    Last, by taking profits from hospitals you suggest... I rarely know a hospital that makes a profit! Seriously, hospitals write off billions every year in medical care, and they survive and make ends meet most of the time with grants, foundational gifts, charitable donations, and what they get from insurance companies. Let's face it, hospital profits are so low, it's the least worry of the health care debate.

    The real issue in health care is that since doctors and hospitals have to bargain/wrangle with insurance companies for payment, they are charging MORE for hospital stays and medical care, so that they get SOMETHING from the company! Insurance companies need EFFECTIVE regulation so that hospitals and doctors can more honestly bill patients and their insurance companies. That would bring costs WAY down!

    But again, atleast you're not spewing liberal anger all over the place or blaming Bush still, as if he is responsible for this terrible Health Care Bill in Congress. Thanks for the honest debate and genuine dialogue!

    August 26, 2009 at 12:28 am |
  26. Randy, Austin, TX

    Captilism (i.e., free markets) dictates health costs, which in turn dictates insurance costs. There is no doubt that the insurance industry needs more regulation (i.e., don't allow them to pick and choose or drop customers who have "played the game" fairly). Require them to keep children on parents plans until at least age 25 when they first start thinking about being responsible (if your lucky). Don't allow them to sell "individual" policies and this will force them to encourage group formation and coverage so they can use numbers to leverage against risk (this is what you call capitalist socialism, i.e., make everyone equal with regard to risk and use price adjustments to increase sells), which will result in more competition and lower insurance cost. Pass tort reform, portability, and forget about another socialist entitlement program that will suck the life out of the American economy for decades to come.

    August 26, 2009 at 12:27 am |
  27. Brandon E.

    Does anyone realize that the US only brings in about $2 Trillion in revenue a year from taxes. YET, just our interest payment of $900 billion alone on that is almost half our income. Then we spend $1 Trillion to bail out greedy corporate executives because of government coercion in the 1990's to encourage lending to high risk borrowers. When we will wake up. If you think the US government can not fail you are wrong. Money is money, Japan collapsed in 1980's, Soviets in the early 1990's, recently Iceland. The US is not invincible. But now we want to spend more money and insure everyone for healthcare. Get spending under control and then lets talk!!! WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!

    August 26, 2009 at 12:22 am |
  28. Andre Kenji

    "So there is no reason to panic about the size of the American deficit. As the economy improves so too will government revenues from taxes and government expenditures on stimulus and income support for the unemployed will be reduced ensuring that , so long as interest rates are kept low, the ratio of debt to GDP will stabilize and even drop as the GDP grows and unemployment falls"

    You can´t keep high deficits and low interest rates on the same time. It will come a time when people will not want to lend you money and you will have to raise interest rates. I know that because that´s precisely what happened in Brazil, where I live.

    August 26, 2009 at 12:20 am |
  29. Chris Proudfoot

    Great article.....I can't even think about health care....Even though the idea of strangling the economy (just as the govt did in 1930) in order to get 47 Million health care (47 0f 300 is 1/6th or about 18%) not counting that half of them have REFUSED health care to save money -I'll bet they have a plasma HD TV and a pretty nice car,and then half of the remaining are on the streets with Mental illness, so for 10% we will emaciate ourselves.... Come on – Lets fix the economy, fix social security, fix medicare, and most importantly stop paying China 1.5BILLION in daily interest on the debt that they carry .....And Niccole L above – What is the QARY (Quality Average Remaining Years) on good old TED...How much should I be taxed to keep him going??? By the way, you already pay for Teds medical insurance....Lets wake up and see that we need to slim down our debts and fix the economy before we have even an argument on how to reform health care.

    August 26, 2009 at 12:18 am |
  30. Stu

    As with any problem, there are multiple levels of root cause. Many are actually symptoms of more core root causes. One can not look at the cost per person for health care and the life expectancy. The health of the people must be taken into account, a Pareto of the actual health care costs would be insightful, costs by age, health, race and sex; etc.

    Where is the real data???? What is Obama's health plan? Is it the house plan, the senate plan or something else?

    We need to fix the deficit, medicare, medicaid, social security and start laying the foundation for health care reform. This would be tort reform, electronic storage of medical records, incentivizing medical students to become family practice doctors (to meet the resource requirements), negotiate drug costs, etc.

    August 26, 2009 at 12:10 am |
  31. Ann

    " Stay strong with Obama and the Dems. America and you will be glad you did.

    Sincerely,
    A former Republican"

    ,,,,,but it's the republicans that are astroturfing. Yea, right. Do you really think people are so stupid to read your post, which is straight from the DNC talking points, and then believe you are former Republican. Are you so ashamed of what you are saying that you have to hide your political affiliation? That's the problem with liberals. They just repeat what somebody tells them to say, not truly understanding or believing it, and then don't want to accept the responsibility of their actions. Take Obama , for instance, all lofty rhetoric, and then washes his hands of it by blaming somebody else. If you don't understand the problems – if you can't comprehend the solutions – shut up and leave it to the adults.

    August 26, 2009 at 12:01 am |
  32. eolufemi

    @mark
    I'm a consultant with a juvenile court in the midwest. We've reduced recidivism by 15% in our county, while reducing caseloads to best practice levels. These sorts of accomplishments by government are what we call invisible victories. People don't notice when the government is doing its job. They just notice when it isn't. People don't notice when they don't get robbed, raped or killed. But when they do it's the government's fault. People need to be more realistic and appreciative of the quality of life they have, which is very much a function of having a great government that actually values the people enough to offer them education, health care, and the like.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:54 pm |
  33. Shawn

    To those of you still pointing your fingers at the Bush administration, might I remind you that your black savior has out spent Bush by about 6x. There is hardly a comparison. Eight years, eight months, simple math? We could have invaded the entire world and still not spent what Mr. Obama has ran through. We are in fact the greatest, most powerful, and youngest super power on the planet. Nearly 40% of the medical field has already been socialized by our government and they are clearly screwing that up. Why allow them to do more? No one goes unattended when it comes to terms of health in this country. Why not take down the red tape and allow the 1,300 medical insurers out there to properly compete? That seems like a logical step towards lowering costs if you ask me. To those of you who whine about the people who are uninsured, why don’t you start buying them insurance if you're so set on helping? President Obama has been far from honest about this entire debate. The liberal mainstream media, is far from honest and CNN is included within this group. Illegals are in fact covered in this Country. It all comes right back to the people pulling the wagon in this country. Taxes, well who hasn’t seen them rising? Smoking, drinking, food, ammunition, and soon the cost of gas will be taxed even farther. Yes he may not immediately and let me emphasize immediately here, he may not get it through income tax any time soon but they are already getting it in other areas. The cost of living is on the rise, just look around you. Now how honest is that? Why is no one discussing this? Lastly, black America needs to be stifled. If you don't want to help pull the wagon then shut the fu%@ up and get out of the way. Go back to your country or get off the back of the wagon and start helping and to you ignorant white folks who feel as if your "intellect" is far beyond the rest of the worlds because you attempt to follow your line of Political Correctness, you too can get out of the way. White guilt has ran its course and most enlightened and actual intellects have learned that Political Correctness only leads in one direction, a full circle to hypocrisy. It is time that you people and yes I said YOU PEOPLE put down your IPhones, put down your five dollar latte, and start helping. No one thinks you are special. Yes, the prick next to you with the scarf who is attempting to read the Wallstreet Journal while chewing at his bagel, he too is just as curious as to whether you notice him. You both need to suck it up and shut the fu%# up. You’re both just as much of the problem as the rest of the a55holes on the back of the wagon. A shameful America..

    August 25, 2009 at 11:53 pm |
  34. Francis Hopkinson

    "annual interest payments of over $900 billion"

    Hmmm... Let's do a little math, shall we, Mari and Steve?

    First of all a Billion = 1,000 Millions. It is shocking (or maybe not with todays school system) how many people do not know how many millions in a billion. (and a Trillion is 1,000 Billions)

    So, $900 Billion = $900,000 Million per year in *interest* alone.

    There are roughly 100 million tax returns filed each year. Many pay little or no tax, but let's just say for the sake of argument that they share this $900,000 Million in *interest* payments (not touching the principal. You know, kind of like the credit cards that you make minimum payments on).

    $900,000 Million divided by 100 million taxpayers = 900,000 / 100 = $9,000 for every tax payer, every year. (that's $750/month for *interest*!)

    Now, I am sure that Mari and Steve and their ilk will have *no problem* paying their share (or maybe they are counting on the evil rich to pick up their part), but I was kind of hoping to send my kids to college, pay my mortgage, put food on the table, etc.

    My family's health insurance costs me right around $750 / month with premiums and co-pays. It would be less if I went with my employers Blue Cross HMO (about $450 / mo from my check) but I choose to purchase it myself as we have been with Kaiser for many years.

    Are you starting to see my point here??? If not there is no hope for you.

    Steve Bannister (who likes to use big words to show us how intelligent he is) states: "One must look at several factors before responsibly judging a federal deficit or debt as “too large” or even “too small.” This one is, all things considered, certainly not too large." He conveniently omits what these "factors" might be. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to take his word for it. Hey, Steve. Who's going to pay *your* share?

    Now, do we need reform? Damn straight. Let's start with:

    1. Tort Reform (that's Lawsuit reform, Mari).
    When doctors must pay over $100,000 / year for malpractice insurance... when the John Edwards of the country are driving baby doctors out of practice... when an estimated 10%-15% of medical costs are "defensive" medicine, it is not hard to imagine the savings if the ambulance chasers were to be reined in. But, the Dems would rather drink battery acid than to mess with one of their main sources of funding. So, that is why there is not *one word* about it in the 1,000+ pages of these monstrous bills (Hey Steve. Have you read the bill??? I didn't think so)

    2. Remove the restriction on interstate sale of insurance. This will drive up competition and allow folks to buy the policy that is right for them. A little understood fact is that the state governments *mandate* different coverage levels in each state. Some require coverage for everything from breast implants to hair plugs to fertility treatments. If you just want insurance for catastrophic care and want to pay for the rest as you need it, too bad. That is why the same insurance costs over $8,000 / year in high tax states like Mass, but less than $2,000 / year in many other states. If you lived in Mass, wouldn't you like to be able to purchase insurance from an insurer state where it cost 1/4 as much. (maybe Steve understands more *factors* involved that I don't understand)

    3. Make health insurance tax-deductible. (do I even need to explain this one?)

    There are more, but these three alone would make a huge difference in the cost of health insurance. (Steve please enlighten me as to what nuances I am missing here)

    And, don't even get me started on how MediCare, MediCaid and the VA are all government run health care and they do *just fine*. Here's a clue Sparky: Go and Google "MediCare unfunded liability" You will quickly find out that all three are bankrupt and only survive by drawing from the general fund.

    If you want government health care, move to canada and leave the rest of us in peace. ( I thought you folks were going to do that after the last two elections)

    August 25, 2009 at 11:49 pm |
  35. David

    Fixing the deficit is never a politically popular idea because it means either cut services, raised taxes, or a combination of both. Multiply that by the fact that we're in a recession and it doubly unpopular. Chances are the deficit issue won't be tackled until the economy is firmly on two feet.

    Instead we should be pushing our representatives toward creating budget-neutral health care reform.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:49 pm |
  36. bkzeallen

    Gergen, you are so late to this, it's incredible. The writing has been on the wall, and you did no favors to put your blinders on. You have been in the tank for Obama from day one, putting aside rationalism and curiosity and instead, building up a nobody with no experience on the cult of personality that his campaign produced. America has awoken. Maybe journalists and commentators will actually do what they are paid for and look into the multitude of stories of corruption this new era of "Hope and Change" has brought us. You are a disgrace. Wake up and do your job.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:42 pm |
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