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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. kabookey

    Mari, what are you smoking lady? Gergen has been bashing W since long before the election and has pushing Saint O even longer so spare us the "it's w's fault" line. W is not the one spending money like a mad man. Saint Has double downed the debt in only a couple month's. God help us if keeps spending like this for another 4 years.

    ***
    Mari August 25th, 2009 3:16 pm ET

    Dear Mr. Gergen,

    You are one of the pundits that we respect at our house. However, I must take issue with your criticism of the deficit. Where were was your criticism of George W. Bush, sir, when he was doubling the national debt, lying about the reason to attack Iraq and hiding the actual cost of the Iraq war, which over 8 years is substantial! Where was your criticism of Bush when this Great Recession had started and Bush sat by doing nothing?

    Our “great nation status” was already in tatters when Bush left office, Mr. Gergen, the illegal war, the doubling of the national debt in eight years and worst of all, torture!

    Now, Obama is in charge, faced with insurmountable problems which he inherited from Bush! And you, criticize? What solution, Mr. Gergen do you offer? What would you do if you were president?! Its quite easy to criticize when you are not in charge.

    Health care is not important unless you are without it! In one of the wealthiest nations on earth millions of our citizens are without healthcare, and millions more …… annually file bankruptcy because of the cost of healthcare!

    The reasoning that we are in debt to China and therefore healthcare reform should be ‘tabled’ is wrong. By the way, we already have government run healthcare in Medicaid, Medicare and the Veteran’s healthcare system! Lastly, let me remind you, sir, we are already paying for the uninsured!

    August 25, 2009 at 4:59 pm |
  2. Phil G

    Health Care Reform will help bankrupt the country unless it is unbundled from its current status of being an employee benefit. Tax deductions for health insurance must be given to individuals, not corporations. Being allowed to cross state lines to purchase health insurance is also necessary.

    Each of these obstructions were political decisions made by whom?

    There is not enough fraud in the system to erase trillions of dollars of debt. The concept of what is acceptable medical care must be agreed upon before regulations are inacted. Obama is getting the cart before the horse.

    Regarding the absolute numbers of the deficit–all of this would go away through the magic of inflation, but politically, inflation must never be the intended goal; it must always be an unsuspected byproduct.

    Obama is a great rhetorician, but words are cheap, and some bad decisions last forever. He is either lying to us, blinded by political orthodoxy, or unwilling to learn. George W is a thing of the past and his non-punishable mistakes were huge, but we must not get into a pissing contest about blame.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:57 pm |
  3. Jim

    How about an "affordable" Federal tax – a maximum of 10% of income levied for all Federal taxes (income, social security, medicare)?

    That is more than enough to handle the Federal duties authorized by the Constitution.

    You are correct that Obama administration's current plans for multi-trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see will destroy the country.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:57 pm |
  4. BobDin

    I believe the historic deficits have already damaged the country. Stagflation seems to be waiting around the corner. So far this administration has been a huge disappointment. From pirates to jobless rates, stimulus, Iran, North Korea, Etc. It's unbelievable how many miscalculations in just a few months. The Cash for Clunkers fowl up is unforgivable. Such a small and simple program with a ton of problems. It's unbelievable! How can anyone trust them on important subjects.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:57 pm |
  5. Annie Kate

    Gergen criticized Bush and his policies and actions many times over the past years on Iraq, the deficit, the cost of the war, as well as many other things. I don't see where anyone can say Gergen's criticism is one-sided.

    Right now our nation is like a mother with an overflowing grocery cart – she has in it everything her family needs but she can't afford it all...so she starts to put back things, just keeping those which are the most important or the most critical. Just as the mother (or father) decide what to keep and what to postpone our country needs to do the same. If we cannot afford the health care plan that is being debated what about a smaller plan with less scope? It can always be enlarged later as we have the money. We may not get everything we want right away but holding down the debt is as important to us economically as many of the other programs we would like to do in the next few years.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  6. w six

    The enormous deficits started with Democratic Party take over of
    Congress in 2007 session:
    2001.....128 Bil surplus
    2002.....(158) Bil deficit
    2003 ....(378) Bil deficit
    2004.....(413) Bil deficit
    2005.....(318) Bil deficit
    2006.....(248) Bil deficit
    2007.....(161) Bil deficit
    2008.....(459) Bil deficit

    August 25, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  7. Lam

    Mari- Is there any problem that you don't blame on Bush? Your diatribe could have been summed up in one sentence. "Bush was bad, so we shouldn't criticize Obama about anything."

    You ask Gergen what he would do. You obviously didn't read or don't know how. Go back and take a look at his last paragraph.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  8. Pamela T

    There are already options available to improve the things that no one likes about heatlh insurance. But let's be very clear: there is NOTHING wrong with the quality of CARE in the United States. It is simply unnecessary, and a terribly wrong-headed approach, to insert the Federal government more and more into the private lives of its citizens, and nothing is more private than taking care of our health. I am more concerned about the overreaching of the government than I am about health insurance companies making 3-5% in profit. Profit is not evil, and there are jobs created in the health insurance and health care industries. Government jobs that will support the massive new bureaucracy will only sap the lifeblood from our economy.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:55 pm |
  9. Freedom Fan

    "Where were was your criticism of George W. Bush, sir, when he was doubling the national debt..."
    -Mari

    Ugh. Republicans everywhere were critical of Bush for not vetoing any spending legislation.

    What good is your infantile finger-pointing; an what good is "free" health care after the country goes bankrupt and our currency becomes worthless?

    As a country we are in a canoe headed for the falls, with a leader who is paddling furiously in the wrong direction.

    Wake up people. Throw the leader overboard and paddle for the shore like your lives depend upon it. While you still are able.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:54 pm |
  10. Deborah/Kansas City

    Where were you all when George Bush passed Medicare D giving the pharmeceutical companies 6 billion in profit just to start. Then agreed that Medicare could not negotiate for cost based on numbers of unsured, and no limit on income to participate? I guess you don't mind paying for Warren Buffit's medication, but a sick unemployed person, never! What happened to "The war in Iraq will be paid for with the oil revenues it won't cost Americans", Didn't hear from all of you then. President Obama should remind people that there is a new budget every year and things are always in flux. There is no way they can predict exactly how much the deficit will be. Where are the predictions of how bad it will be if we don't fix healthcare? We will fix the deficit when the economy is strong again and the jobs are back. We must not wait to fix healthcare as it is bankrupting us now.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  11. Mary

    I suggest President Obama immediately remove the $10 billion in subsidies for insurance/healthcare for his Union supporters in the healthcare bill.

    They already have the best insurance in town.

    Obama would have more credibility if he insisted that $10 billion payback be given to people without insurance , instead.

    This is not Chicago, Mr. Gergen.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
  12. Jasper

    I couldn't disagree more with Gergen's analysis. Although dealing with deficits is hard, history has shown it's politically (see "Clinton, William, J.") feasible. It appears that the US needs to implement about 4 points of GDP worth of increased taxes - or spending cuts - or some combination of both, to reduce federal borrowing down to manageable levels once the economy resumes normal growth. Given the possibility that overzealous deficit trimming is dangerous in the early stages of a recovery (see "1937, recession of"), it's more prudent to wait until the economy is growing more robustly before such actions are undertaken.

    Lack of comprehensive access to health care, though, is literally killing thousands of Americans each year (and no, you can't get treated for diabetes or heart disease or cancer at the ER - not unless you're at death's door). Given the EXTREME political difficulty of trying to enact substantive reform in this area (it's been about 70 years since a US president first tried to enact universal health care coverage), Obama is better off seizing the moment - before it's too late. Pessimistic prognostications notwithstanding, the reality is that Democrats have the votes and the mojo to pass a major healthcare bill if they want to. And the thing is, if they FAIL to pass major healthcare reform, they're going to get their clocks cleaned in the 2010 midterms.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
  13. RLWellman

    The President needs to know he can't cram bills down the majority's throat. We live in a Democracy and the majority rules. He can't keep listening only to the liberal left.

    Let's try for a bipartism health care reform bill that is best for all of us. Not just those who don't work, don't want to work, ain't going to do it. If the Government would help lower costs for those that can afford insurance, the savings would help pay for those who can't afford to buy insurance.

    Are we going to have to hear it's all Bush's fault the whole time President Obamas in office?

    August 25, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  14. Judy Belanger

    I watched McCain to his town hall. Well someone should inform him about covering his mouth when he coughs. After blowing his nose after and after (his hands full of germs) hands his microphone over to a lady for a message. He needs a consult of Health Care. In fact he should not have been their. We are told when sick , stay home. He is spreading more than words.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  15. John T

    We simply cannot afford to do the current plan. We need to prioritize and live within our means. I did not vote for President Obama but he could gain a ton of respect from the nation by showing leadership and scaling back on health reform. Make sure the uninsured are insured from a catastrophic event and help to limit lack of coverage on pre-exisiting conditions and open up the rest of the market so there is indeed true competition. But there is no need to make this more complex than this at this time. Lastly make sure this is deficit neutral (i.e. cut other programs etc. to pay for it, don't raise taxes). This is a common sense approach that the nation would rally around (left and right)!

    August 25, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  16. Still Working in Michigan

    Mr. Gergen is one of the cable pundits I can still tolerate. I agree the deficits are alarming and I wonder how much the nation can bear.

    However, the future is just that unknown. So, how do we get out of this mess? President Obama needs to show leadership by first raising taxes on those making $250,000 and above. Let's be realistic, when Bush cut taxes this did not help the country. I am tired of hearing you can't raise taxes on the small businesses they create jobs. Well, from everything I've read, the small business owners received Bush tax cut benefits and millions of jobs were lost in 2008 (pre-Obama).

    If you don't reform healthcare now then when? Medicare and Medcaid will be bankrupt unless something changes, you will have more people applying for both because people are losing jobs and getting older.

    How can we pay down the deficits if there is no revenue? Everyone laughed when I believe it was Biden that stated, "it is American to pay more in taxes". Well, I believe what was seen as a gaffe is true.

    We want the government to protect us (we're paying for 2 wars), we want the government to be there if we lose our jobs (how many times have unemployment benefits been extended), and seniors now believe the craziness of death panels (but don't touch Medicare or my Social Security Benefits). If people want the government out of their lives, have them do a stint in IRAQ and send along some of the card carrying NRA members for a stint in IRAQ. That should save us some money!

    Freedom is not free....let's repeal the Bush tax cuts for those making $250,000 and above, get a bill on the oval office desk that includes a public option to increase competition, and make sure the physicians get paid to do more preventative care.

    We can pay for this by cutting the pay of Senators and Congress people to represent us....after all it is called public service. All I see is a lot of overpaid people worrying how they are going to keep their jobs at the expense of those they are supposed to represent. Plus they get stellar healthcare and I've not heard anything volunteer to give their benefits back.

    Now that would be leadership!

    August 25, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  17. Michael A

    What continually amazes me is how the people who that say America is the greatest nation on earth and can't be defeated are the sme ones who instantly say we can't have universal healthcare.
    WE are the only industrialized nation without universal healthcare;
    We spend almost twice as much on healthcare as any other nation yet are rated 27th. Doesn't look like the free market competition has done us much good .

    August 25, 2009 at 4:34 pm |
  18. gladRocks

    For those who like to talk about Bush's debt, as a percentage of GDP, our debt under him increased by 30% while Obama will increase by 100% just based on the numbers they've given us, which will probably be worse. And that's after his first 6 months in office...

    August 25, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  19. marion

    Keep Spending,that's what Obama wants to do,It is fun to spend other people's money especially when you get the pat on the back for doing it. ... Obam's deficit is staggering to the mind but some how that has not slowed him down,are we sure he is on the side of Americans,it seems he is the world's side to bring America to its knees?...

    August 25, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  20. Jesse in Maryland

    Well, Mari, I am pretty sure Mr. Gergen did criticize George W. Bush for his deficit spending. I'm rather conservative, and I criticized him for it! But simply saying that "Bush did it, too" is no reason to give Obama a pass on what he's done in the last eight months to make the problem even worse. Obama has already added more to the deficit in his first eight months than Bush did in eight years! He spent more money in his first six months than Bush did on the entire Iraq war.

    Let's face it, both presidents are/were fiscally irresponsible, and by the numbers, Obama much more so than Bush. The solution is never blaming the last guy in office–it's Obama's chair now, and I haven't seen any evidence yet that these huge debts concern him. Health care is important, but given that the vast majority of American citizens either has health insurance or is able to purchase it (but choose not to), this is certainly not the time to be pushing America further into debt in order to meet that need. If Obama shows some fiscal sense in the future, I think he'll get more support for his health reform plans. Until then, most Americans are sick of the spiraling debt.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  21. Brian Williams

    In response to Mari. Bush sucked, I know, we all know, he sucked. We now have a President who took office, saw everything that Bush did and decided to continue most of what he did. What people, both left and right, have no comprehension of, is where this will all lead. Read up on the political history of the nice tourism spot of Jamaica, where you have two major parties who are basically the same, being elected by promising people the moon. Read up on the neighborhoods where you can be killed if you walk through it displaying the sign of the other party, but both are living in poverty. Read up on how it cost 50 cents for a kid to catch a taxi to primary school and how it cost the same kid $100 to catch the same taxi when he was going to high school because of runaway inflation. You see people blaming both parties and the government for their conditions but go back every election and reelect the same people because they promised you an extra dollar. The day we step back from both parties and look around and see that they are bring you to that same place because people cannot see that you do not vote for someone that takes from someone else to give to you, you vote for someone that will leave everyone alone to sink or swim and for people with moral and ethics to step in and help those who cannot swim with charities and donations etc: Not with government 'help.'
    But what do I know? Everyone is entitled to his need from those with ability and it is the governments duty to provide it by means of force.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  22. Shirley b.

    I am so tired of hearing criticism of this president. He has not been in office for a full year and yet he is expected to do what so other president has done, simply because we have not been in this mess before. Not to mention the GOP hyposcrity. It is ingenious for the GOP to go on-and-on about how terrible the president is yet never lift one finger to help clean up the mess they created. They behave as if they are above it all. Irresponsible is the word. If the GOP don't want to behave responsibly, fine, just shut-up and move over. Quick hindering the President, at least he is trying. And another thing, President Obama is not just a good father, he is a decent, responsible human being who is being slandered (ever so nicely) by the good ole' boys who have trouble respecting an intelligent human being whose pigmentation is not the same as their own. So get over yourself GOP and try and pretend to be intelligent adults.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  23. Jack Davis

    Oh Mari, PLEASE!

    Enough about how all of this is George Bush's fault. WAKE UP! George Bush is NOT the president. Barack Obama is the president, and all of this became Obama's problem the moment he was sworn in.

    As for the deficit, have you done the math on how Obama has increased the national debt more than all other presidents COMBINED?

    And what else has Obama done so far? He's spent us nearly bankrupt. The stimulus plan is a nonworking joke. Cash for clunkers was a disaster for car dealers STILL waiting to get paid. And now he wants to destroy choice in health care.

    Here's how choice is destroyed. CEOs across the country will opt out of providing health care the moment government gets into health care as a provider. Why? Because it will be cheaper for companies to pay fines and levies than it will be for them to continue providing health-care coverage.

    So when my company dumps me into a government plan, because it's easier and cheaper for my company to do that, there will have gone my choice.

    So, Mari, what do you have now? In incompetent in the White House whose latest goofball idea is to have his attorney general conduct a witch hunt in the CIA.

    You need to get yourself educated as to what's going on NOW!

    August 25, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  24. Paul

    maybe one of the reasons that Americans overuse the health care system in this country is because we are also the fattest group of people in the world. This also leads to an explanation of why our people don't live as long as others.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  25. valwayne

    David Gergen is right. Obama's deficits and $9Trillion debt are so staggering and dangerous to the health of the nation that it boggles the mind. Obama has to stop Health Care and focus on putting the nation back on sound economic footing. Its unbelieveable that fixing the nations economy and getting people back to work has been so far down his list of priorities that we don't even notice he's doing anything about it, except for the corrupt stimulous bill which has so totally failed! Obama's programs are risking damage to the nation that we will need generations to recover from, if ever. Follow Mr. Gergen's advice..now!

    August 25, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  26. JT

    Great article. Why can't we fix what we have first with healthcare. If you have read any part of the bill, you can easily see that it is more about the government being involved with your choices than any real reform.

    Think about it – why overhaul the entire system for a small % of the population? And yes, look at the reality of the "47 million" for a moment. Remove illegal aliens, remove those that can afford but chose not to get healthcare, remove those eligible for medicaid but chose not to, remove those eligible for employer sponsored plans but chose not to, and you have a much smaller number.

    And, Marli? You might want to let the "It's all George Bush's fault" mantra go, sweet pete, already!!

    It's not. Rahm Emmanual sat on the BOARD of FNMA during the crisis. YOu know him don't you? Obama's chief of staff? And Barney Frank? And Pelosi? For the love of honesty, READ, get the FACTS before you go with the Bush is the devil mantra. Yikes..

    August 25, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  27. Paul

    I love it when people mention that we have government programs already (medicare, medicaid, and the VA). This just makes the agrument against government run healthcare even greater. These programs are going bankrupt (but its okay because the government can print money). And look at the recent news of innapopriate use of funds within the higher ranks of the VA.

    And just look at the comments within this story:

    " 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."

    The government is never accurate on their estimates of costs. So what will be the final cost of this so called reform (government plan) that doesn't even get at containing costs. 3 trillion or more? People just hear the word free and they come running. But trust me this will not be free, our country will pay for it dearly!

    August 25, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  28. colt

    The fat terd Ted Kennedy gets the best care in the world. He along with all the other liberal hypocrites in congress will not be affected by Obamacare. They will not be subject to it! They get to keep their gold plated care.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  29. Michael Gallien

    Mr. Gergen did not assess blame because at this point, it is not relevant. The deficit is what it is. His point is that we can't add the health tab to it. Point made. Blame Bush if you like. It won't solve the problem.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  30. Steve Bannister

    Unfortunately, Professor Gergen, you are perpetuating one of the great myths of the neo-classical era of economics, now struggling for relevance.

    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.

    Thus, you advance a continuing and dangerous myth whose only purposes are to obfuscate the truth and protect the current political and wealthy elite. And in fact it will paradoxically end up hurting them as well. This is almost totally an ideological argument, not good economic theory or empirics.

    You are smarter than that.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  31. Robert in LA

    George Bush was not fiscally responsible, and was justly criticized for this by people in both parties and citizens left and right. However, Obama is dramatically accelerating the ugly trend that Bush started. Bush may have double the DEFICIT (the amount the government runs in the red each year) but Obama is actually doubling the DEBT (the total amount that the government owes as a result of all of its deficits). Obama's policies constitute fiscal recklessness on a new and breathtaking scale, even compared to George Bush.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  32. Michael

    Ok, let me say one thing. Yes Bush definitely spent too much money but this current administration is doubling of Bush's doubling. That is going from 4 Trillion to 9 Trillion under Bush then Obama is going up to 18 Trillion. If you were to have a crazy couple of years with hardships and went $100,000 into debt and realized you were spending too much money would you spend $200,000 to get yourself back in line? I dont think so

    August 25, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  33. shane

    Mari,

    Mr. Gergen is not the President of the United States. He did not go out and campaign, knowing full well what he would face, and state that he and only he was the one who could fix the country.

    This was not completely inherited from Bush. Yes the recession started under Bush...but it has been made worse, FAR worse, under the Obama and his "fixes"

    August 25, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  34. JohnR

    Obamacare died the day the CBO confirmed that not only would Obamacare NOT reduce costs...it would add trillions to the deficit. This, combined with Obama's already reduced credibility from the failed stimulus and Cap & Trade, caused support for Obamacare to tank. Obama realizes this and now talks of health "insurance" reform; a much scaled back plan which he can actually get passed.

    The fundamental problem is cost; we spend three times per capita what europe spends and have $100T (that's trillion) in unfunded liabilities for medicare in the out-years. And the ONLY solution is aggressive rationing...just like the europeans do. Naive children on this thread who think we can cut costs by achieving so-called efficiencies and taking profit (oh evil word) out of the equation are in denial. Nothing other than aggressive rationing will do the trick. Too bad the voters don't have the will to do what needs to be done.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  35. lampe

    You people SLAY ME! Where were you when Bush did this, where were you when Bush did that. Give it a rest already. Obama got exactly what he ran for. He knew what he was getting into, and if he didn't OH WELL! Just because GWB ran up the deficit, as you all claim, that now makes it right for Obama to do the same? Remember two wrongs, don't make a right.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  36. John in NC

    Mari,

    My simple question to you is – how much of your own money are you willing to give to someone in need?

    Have you offered any of that money to your neighbors that have lost their jobs? Have your offered large portions (not the $5 and $10 variety) to homeless people in your town? Maybe you could even offer 20% of your wages to someone that is simply less fortunate than you so that they can have as much as you.

    If you have not or are not willing to do any of the above, you're a hypocrite – the PETA member that eats meat, the vegetarian that eats fish or eggs, etc.

    If you do any of these and they constitute a significant portion of your wages – you are a better person than me.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  37. ster

    A commenter here stated we should take away the hospital's profit motive.

    That's funny. It's the profit motive that helps keep costs down. To raise a profit, control costs. ECO 101.

    If there is no profit movitve, there's no reason to control costs.

    August 25, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  38. JoanyS

    Mari says: You are one of the pundits that we respect at our house. However, I must take issue with your criticism of the deficit. Where were was your criticism of George W. Bush, sir, when he was doubling the national debt, lying about the reason to attack Iraq and hiding the actual cost of the Iraq war, which over 8 years is substantial! Where was your criticism of Bush when this Great Recession had started and Bush sat by doing nothing?

    Typical liberal. Your savior goes south, so blame Bush. And where was Gergen when Bush was prez? Probably with the other 70% that disagreed with Bush. Now it looks like he'll be with the 53% (and rapidly growing) set of people that are against Obama. Hope and Change has turned into Hopeless and The Same.

    August 25, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  39. Karen

    THis is the worst administration in US history. They continue to give out money to convicted felon and lobbyists who were annointed Czars without a background check, the media censors and uses propaganda to further his career.

    We are broke. He has doubled the deficit in 7 months. What it took George Bush 8 years to do, Obama did in a few months.

    This is terrible. I can't wait to have an idependent/republican congress to put some checks and balances on these left-wing extremists. I look forward to peaceful transition of power in January 2013 - Maybe President Rell or Pawlenty.

    August 25, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  40. Bill Sanford

    What would CNN have of any relevancy to comment on Obama?

    CNN, lead the pack for "jumping in the Tank for Obama". It has been a prime cheerleader for a 'president' that is incompetent, and unwilling to learn. CNN has let down it viewership, it' s country (if it acknowledges one) and it's employees. It is a disgrace.

    Now Gergen 'discovers' that obama is going to break the country. Little late, isn't it?

    August 25, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  41. Rod

    "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!'

    There are good reasons why the deficit is higher than projected, and will in the future be even higher, unless the warning of Warren Buffett is heeded soon. You can't spend so much money and do nothing to incentivize the private sector, especially small business, and not stare at a growing deficit down the road. The President should take to heart that the longer he delays workable solutions, the harder it will be to achieve recovery.

    August 25, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  42. Ernie Banks

    Obama has botched health care reform. What are we trying to accomplish? Insure more folks? Reduce long term costs? Punish evil insurance companies? Create national health insurance for everyone? Who knows.

    If Obama can find a way to address any of these without raising taxes and increasing the deficit, I'll listen. But we shouldn't borrow money from our kids to pay today's hospital bill.

    August 25, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  43. KIm

    We've got your eyes popping and where is Hillary Clinton's town hall for Universial Health Care ? Vice President Biden has it covered on national security ! That's why we the people hired them and they wear a lot of different ,"team hats" well for solutions ! Raise your hand in America if you want to hear from Hillary Clinton on Universial Health Care and see her townhall ! McCain had one today ! "Fire it up and let's go !" Obama can relax on vacation,they've got it covered !

    August 25, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  44. Rod

    Obama should blame only himself for the need to table his healtcare plan. He has proposed 8 times the cost of the Iraq War, and equal to the inflation adjusted cost of WWII.

    Also, Americans have said they do not want his plan. The president is wrong to presume he should overrule Amercans because he thinks he knows what is good for them better than they do.

    August 25, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  45. Michele

    Excellant article as always... What an untimely position for our president. Anything that is going to put us futher in debt is not going to be popular.... Reform what exists, fix the broken system that is medicare and medicaid, but keep your eye on covering all american citizens, it is the right thing to do..

    August 25, 2009 at 3:22 pm |
  46. Mari

    Dear Mr. Gergen,

    You are one of the pundits that we respect at our house. However, I must take issue with your criticism of the deficit. Where were was your criticism of George W. Bush, sir, when he was doubling the national debt, lying about the reason to attack Iraq and hiding the actual cost of the Iraq war, which over 8 years is substantial! Where was your criticism of Bush when this Great Recession had started and Bush sat by doing nothing?

    Our "great nation status" was already in tatters when Bush left office, Mr. Gergen, the illegal war, the doubling of the national debt in eight years and worst of all, torture!

    Now, Obama is in charge, faced with insurmountable problems which he inherited from Bush! And you, criticize? What solution, Mr. Gergen do you offer? What would you do if you were president?! Its quite easy to criticize when you are not in charge.

    Health care is not important unless you are without it! In one of the wealthiest nations on earth millions of our citizens are without healthcare, and millions more ...... annually file bankruptcy because of the cost of healthcare!

    The reasoning that we are in debt to China and therefore healthcare reform should be 'tabled' is wrong. By the way, we already have government run healthcare in Medicaid, Medicare and the Veteran's healthcare system! Lastly, let me remind you, sir, we are already paying for the uninsured!

    August 25, 2009 at 3:16 pm |
  47. Rick McDaniel / Lewisville, TX

    Health care can be made less costly for the government, but only if you take away the probability of fraud, in payments from the government, to private firms.

    That means, a truly national health care, socialism if you prefer, that removes that waste, removes the profit from health care for private firms, and taxes employers for the monies they would have normally paid to private firms, in order to help pay for the public program.

    Trying to put in a program that is half one thing, half another, simply isn't viable.

    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.

    Yes, there will be the inevitable government wastefulness, that goes along with anything the government does. However, that should actually be far less a cost, than the profits the health care industry is now reaping.

    The key here, is that you cannot go half-way.......you must literally choose to maintain the status quo, or you must make public health care universal for all. Half-way opens the door for fraud, excessive profiteering, and other excesses.

    The one thing you absolutely CANNOT do, is to provide health care for the uninsured poor, on the backs of the middle class. The middle class must have relief.

    August 25, 2009 at 3:13 pm |
  48. Mississippi Mike

    You know what? We can't afford this legislation. We shouldn't be tampering in private markets and we have no way to replace them with government heirarchies.

    August 25, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
  49. Niccole Lopiccolo

    I know that Senator Ted Kennedy is in poor health. Horrible what is happening to him. Interested in seeing his total medical bill. The medical system is broken and analyzing the bill of a beloved public figure might open the eyes for what needs to be done to fix things. I know the reform stems deeper than a medical bill...but what a great way to stir things up a little. After you obtain the medical bill of the senator, do a compare and contrast between reform ideas....What would the reform do for that?

    sidenote: I hope this does not sound disrespectful to pick a public figure. No disrespect intended. Talk to me is cheap, show me what you mean with something real!

    August 25, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  50. JC- Los Angeles

    As an Independent who voted for Barack Obama, due solely to deplorable alternatives, it should surprise no one that he is practicing on the American people.

    While any neophyte of scant accomplishments, book advances aside, should be given ample time to govern, it's harrowing to see how quickly President Obama chose to compromise America.

    Take over banks; check; take over automobile industry? check; take over AIG? check; take over health care? trying; bankrupting nation: trying real hard.

    August 25, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
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