August 25th, 2009
11:59 PM ET

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

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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. Jake Davis

    Now Gergen tells us – he and CNN were in the tank for Obama during the campaign and stayed there through the stimulus – and now he changes his mind to cover his butt – throw that bum out

    August 25, 2009 at 11:42 pm |
  2. Sherri

    Obama has destroyed our childrens' future with his prolifigate spending. I don't want him anywhere near our health care. He's damaged this country permanently already.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:32 pm |
  3. Mike in NJ

    I was at a town hall forum in NJ today run by Frank Pallone who was a significant writer of HR 3200.

    The scariest thing I took out of there is that he didn't even know the current laws in NJ. NJ has guaranteed issue coverage, and has modified community rating meaning that the rates cannot change. He told the group of 1000 or so people there (about 350 at a time) that you could have family individual insurance and it could originally cost $13,000 and then all of a sudden it could be $20,000 because of pre-existing conditions.

    NO IT CAN'T!!

    This person who is WRITING the legislation supposedly doesn't know the laws of his own state that he's been a congressman in for some 30 years???

    I'm very afraid.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:30 pm |
  4. Liberal4Obama

    Funny how Michael Steele was Pro-Medicare last week and this week he throws Medicare under the bus. Can republicans just be honest with the American people and admit all they want to do is kill healthcare reform so they can hand President Obama a defeat? I mean I dont know anyone who thinks they really wanna have an honest debate on the issues, its all LIES and more LIES from the GOP.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:29 pm |
  5. eolufemi

    In the middle of a recession, people don't want to pay taxes, yet they expect the government to continue offering services to the people.

    Time to slash and burn the budget starting with the Defense Department.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:24 pm |
  6. Mike

    Yes, we have a deficit problem but not dealing with health care will not help it either. The reason we currently have so many problems is that President and Congress have chosen not to tackle the hard problems for fear of the next election. Health care, energy and education have been kicked down the road long enough and it is time to do something about it so that the problems won't continue to fester like a bad disease ultimately killing the Nation.

    I am no economist but it seems to me that solving these issues will make us stronger economically and help with the deficit in the long run. Look how long it took for us to deal with civil rights and what it finally took, a President who said screw it, this is the right thing to do. I believe that Obama will have a hard road to hoe but if he fights and succeeds he will go down in history as one of our great Presidents.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:22 pm |
  7. Bill D

    I have heard the same crap for 30 years now–not yet, maybe next year etc etc. We can do it now and we should do it now. Deficits will still be there either way. If we pass this bill with a public option we can get our cost down for health care and that alone should make a big difference in the deficit. We are in a recession and this aint going to last forever so those figure will be down before you know it!

    August 25, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  8. Ryan

    People run the fastest when chasing a dollar. Removing the motive of success halts productivity and advancement. Case and point? The US Postal Service and the DMV. Needless bureaucracy and lazy employees with a sense of entitlement deliver my mail to my neighbor and make me wait two hours to take my picture and print a new license because half of the staff is on break at any given point in time. Don't put my doctor or my insurer in that position. I want them to be driven by a need to succeed. I need my doctor to want to cure and heal me on the first try and do it fast. I want my insurer fear losing my business to a competitor and to be driven to guide me to the best care at the lowest cost. Make me whole, do it fast, and save me some money.

    To find the real problem, follow the money. Don't be mad at your employer for not getting you a $5 copay plan because they can't afford it. Don't be mad at your insurer for charging so much because they aren't in the business of losing money. Don't be mad at your doctor for charging so much and don't blame his/her insurer for charging so much for liability coverage because they aren't in the business of losing money either. Be mad at the juries who reward selfish individuals excessive lawsuit payouts. Be mad at selfish people suing their doctor for frivolous reasons. Be mad at a government who refuses to cap the lawsuit payouts that are destroying the biggest industry in our economy.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:17 pm |
  9. Joy

    The anarchists are at work again trying to disrupt legitimate social discourse on how to improve our broken healthcare system. If profit is the motive, then good health will not be the result.
    Who do you think wants you to die faster, the US Government or a for-profit insurance company?

    August 25, 2009 at 11:10 pm |
  10. Cense

    Bush triple the deficit on a war with a country that did not attack us. Spend trillions on Iraq without no return to the American people, and now Obama is trying to pass something that will benefit the American people and the republicians are saying it is too expensive. Oh well, republicians don't know better. All they know is to trump up mendacious stories. I am an independent who voted for Obama and I am proud of the job he is doing. All you nae sayers on this blog is obviously fox news slaves that is working over time to make the president look bad. Just let me tell you it is not working on sensible people. You loud mouth non-debating people might have the spot light now but the Health Care reform will pass and it will be sucessful. The health care reform is probably going to save some of you people who are against it houses or life savings in the future.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:07 pm |
  11. Dan

    I am a conservative American who has had a great run at the American dream that happens to be unemployed, but still pays for insurance. What scares me about health care reform is the fact that the vast majority of the uninsured are either, to dumb to apply for programs they are eligible form, don't pay taxes or make enough money to pay for insurance but choose not to. I see way to many people who claim they cannot pay for health insurance with cell phones, flat screens and Escalades. Create a means test and make those who can afford health care but choose not to pay a fine and use that to insure the truly poor.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:04 pm |
  12. Tearlach61

    Yep, George Bush was irresponsible and ran up a huge deficit.

    What does that make Obama? Worse.

    August 25, 2009 at 10:53 pm |
  13. Samar

    David, thanks for speaking on behalf of most of us. Mr. Obama has all good intentions to bring long term care for the health care of this country. But frankly, and simply not right now. Instead he needs to realign and refocus on financial reform and changing business models of wall street not ignoring and avoiding them. Once we have V, U, W...small w or whatever type of recovery, he can start pushing for the health care. But for now, we better save some money for a really really really rainy day.

    August 25, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  14. AAM

    hey, at least he's trying something.

    congrats obama.

    Must suck trying to help people who are so content with the hole we are in financially.

    And to those who are so apt to complain...
    go become a politician instead of complaining from the sidelines.

    go make the change you are so picky to find.

    August 25, 2009 at 10:45 pm |
  15. Pete

    A little point by point eviscerating of some standard Republican arguments:

    And what else has Obama done so far? He’s spent us nearly bankrupt. The stimulus plan is a nonworking joke.
    Answer: Depends who you ask. If you ask most economists, the stimulus is working. Seen the stock market lately? That's a non-lagging indicator, as opposed to jobs. Also, pleae note that while W's stimulus was a free cash grab with no conditions, Obama's version had the banks scrambling to pay us back.

    Cash for clunkers was a disaster for car dealers STILL waiting to get paid.
    Answer: And once they do get paid they will laud this as having been a great program and can we please do it again.

    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.
    Answer: That depends on the fines and levies. Is it cheaper for a company to pay them as opposed to paying for health care? Then RAISE THEM. It's that easy.

    77% of Americans support a public option, including 50% of Republicans. See? They're not all bad.

    August 25, 2009 at 10:44 pm |
  16. Rob (NV)

    I've been in hospital operating rooms for the past 23 years in roles as RN and as a representative of a transplant organization ... here's a glimpse into the conversations physicians are openly having and sharing:

    1. The vast majority of physicians over 45 plan to retire almost immediately if Obama's "Public Option" with reimbursements linked to Medicare passes. They won't be able to afford to continue practicing. This will create an unimaginable shortage of health care providers ... you think we're in crisis now? ... think again. Worse, medical school applications will drop drastically as new practitioners won't be able to pay off their student loans in a reasonable time.

    2. Every healthcare provider knows, and has known for years, how to quickly reign in spiraling healthcare costs ... TORT REFORM NOW! Sad that the president I voted for (and will vote against if he continues this course) seems deeply in the pocket of the trial lawyers.

    August 25, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  17. go_figure7722

    I tell you what Obama and the liberal Democrats,who took the financial football from Republicans and ran away with it, should do: STOP SPENDING. No to health care reform that most don't want. It won't save Jack even if Obama got his fantasy of complete gov't takeover. The loons in D.C. need to be stopped for the sake of our country.

    August 25, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  18. Sudhir

    This is a tough subject. I have medical insurance but the cost of it is too high, and I am only 35. We pay over $1000 per month.So is health care reform needed? Absolutely.
    But the question you raise is a valid one, how do we pay for it? In my view more important question you raised is – is our president brave enough to draw out his detailed plan. He will be hammered, no two ways about it. He is pretty close to losing the plot.

    As far as I am concerned, health care reform must happen. Or we all will suffer together 5 yrs, 10 yrs from now. Currently its me and wife, don't be surprised to see yourself join this exclusive club of "can't afford insurance".

    August 25, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  19. N. Manetavat

    don't worry about deficits, the more we have Fed. debts the more Americans will be richer,because when the Govt. borrows and spends the money will go to American pockets. The rich peoples gets more benifits because they have the money to invest. In 1985 we had 13 billionaires but now we have over 1000. Where did the money come from? Govt. because we do not have trade surplus. Look at China with huge trade surplus, the country has growth. Imagine if we had trde surplus like China!!!!

    August 25, 2009 at 10:28 pm |
  20. BHO - fan

    When BUSH was elected HE wasn't FACED with the PROBLEMS that OBAMA HAS. It's easy to get into TROUBLE than to get OUT of it. . . The ECONOMY CRASHED under BUSHE'S watch NOT Obama's. . . And YES Obama knew what he was getting into by running for Pres. . . BUT, I'm sure HE did'nt think the RETHUGS was going to let the COUNTRY sink and wish HE would FAIL just so they can get back into POWER.


    August 25, 2009 at 10:28 pm |
  21. Nam

    I laugh out loud when someone says "we are the richest greatest nation on earth with millions without insurance." Richest nation on earth doesn't go borrow 9 trillion. Richest nation on earth doesn't rely on a developing country like China to finance its debt. Richest nation on earth doesn't pay 900 billion a year to interest and shall not be worried so much that the debtor doesn't lend more.

    It's the debt, stupid.

    August 25, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  22. Roland-St George, UT

    One word...DISGUSTED.

    August 25, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  23. Alice

    Why should health care increase the deficit if other countries with models of health care similar to those that we are considering pay much less than we do and live longer, healthier lives? We seem to have lost sight of the fact that by having government take over parts of the health care system, it will relieve that burden from corporations and make them better able to compete globally. Our businesses have a hard time competing partly because they have to pay for health care while foreign competition does not.

    As a person who has dealt with family members with serious type 1 diabetes, brain cancer and stage 3 colon cancer this year, I can tell you that the American system is badly broken. Fortunately, the person with colon cancer lives in Canada. He has been able to get multiple opinions on his treatments, paperwork has been minimal, he has had his choice of doctors and specialists, and it has cost almost nothing. This situation was quite different for my relatives in the US who have lived with on-going fear that their insurance would be canceled, co-pays and complicated paperwork.

    We do already ration health care in the country based on ability to pay. Is this really what we think we want?

    August 25, 2009 at 10:16 pm |
  24. Frank222

    It stands to reason, if the fed govt is temporarily bailing out the country then the deficit is going to go up...there are wolves in the hen house of corporate america. The wave length will increase until intability topples the empire...same old same old.

    August 25, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  25. Kevin from Mass.

    David, I agree with you. But there may be a third option - requiring an even larger dose of leadership...and more than a little audacity.

    Recognizing the need for universal ACCESS to health care, the need to cover catastrophic and other large medical expenses, the need to encourage preventive care for all, and the need to improve efficiency of administration, figure out how much to raise taxes in order to pay for these changes for everyone and sign everyone up for private (not government-run) health insurance that covers each person under this new plan. (Everyone can choose an insurer but will default to a pre-chosen one if silent.)

    Yes, the tax increase will be hefty, but we're all paying it now, in some way or another. (Low-income people not paying taxes and getting free, walk-in health care now also would get it under this scenario.) Just sell America - and Congress - on the idea that we're just shifting the payment structure and, yes, forcing everyone into a health plan for the long-term good.

    The change can aim to be revenue-neutral. Employers will be freed from the shackles of increasing costs, too. Outsourcing will be curbed. Lots of upside. (Just do something to get primary-care physicians interested in the "specialty" again.)

    August 25, 2009 at 10:07 pm |
  26. ksm2000

    Michael A said: "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."

    – Hmm. Seems that ALL politicians say we are the greatest country on earth. Maybe Obama is the first exception, as he runs from country to country apologizing for his revised history.

    "WE are the only industrialized nation without universal healthcare;"

    – No we aren't you clown. But even if that were true, it would be irrelevant, as almost all new drugs and treatments originate here – the only place anyone can make a profit.

    "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 ."

    – Typical liberal who can't differentiate between apple and orange. We are 27th in LIFE EXPECTANCY, not in "healthcare". In halthcare we are #1 – read that again – #1. Whether heart disease, breast cancer, colon cancer, or other major treatment, the USA has the highest success rate and the longest post-treatment lifespan. Our LIFESPAN is lower because we have drug gangs shooting young people and because we eat like pigs. Take out the gang killings and drug ODs and we are #1 in life expectancy too.

    August 25, 2009 at 10:07 pm |
  27. dee


    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 10:06 pm |
  28. Michelle

    If we do NOT pass health care reform this year then we will NOT address the number one cause of HIGH DEFICITS which is health care costs particularly medicare.

    Gergen got this wrong. Health care reform that addresses tackling high costs is the BEST thing that Obama could do to tame the deficits in the long run.

    Instead of health care reform focusing on universality, health care reform should focus on lowering health care costs and consumer protections.

    August 25, 2009 at 10:02 pm |
  29. Michael

    Gergen has it right. Obama's attempt to use the moral big stick in promoting his health care 'reform' failed when his figures were spurious. The 47 million he claimed 'cannot get health care' included 10 million illegals, 18 million children covered under other government programs, and 12 million who make over $50,000 but choose to self insure. The remaining 10 million go to emergency rooms where we already pay for their health care. When the moral approach failed, Obama tried convincing us his proposal would save us money and help get the economy back on course, but the GAO took one look and told us the truth; Obama's proposal will cost trillions. Strike two! Then Obama tried the political gambit, trying to pass his 'reform' without the Republicans but the Blue Dog Democrats spit in his soup! Strike three. Surely Obama has seen enough to understand that he needs to address our deficit before trying to push health care reform again. Thanks, Gergen.

    August 25, 2009 at 10:01 pm |
  30. ray

    The deficit adjustment prediction wasn't the only scary economic number the Administration revealed today – our GNP will be -2.5% for the year and predicted unemployment for next year will be 1-2% higher. So much for "growing our way out of these deficits" and "green shoots." A return to normal consumer spending is likely 2-3 years away. In view of such developments, Obamacare is politically dead in the water - and unless the Administration truly doesn't give a care about America's future as a economic unit, they will end their pursuit of it.

    It's very striking that Gergen – who drank deeply of the KoolAid - now thinks abandoning the health care initiative would signal "courage" and "leadership." A very bad sign. But why not take Gergen's advice if you are President Obama and move on to the next policy initiatives promised to his base - cap and trade, card check, and immigration reform, i.e. amnesty. Ooops, never mind! Icebergs dead ahead . . . . lots and lots of them. 2010 isn't going to be pretty.

    August 25, 2009 at 9:59 pm |
  31. Michael Amoroso

    Lets put the politics aside here folks.

    Look at where the money is going. Let us wake up.

    #1 Women do not need to be hospitalized for a birth in a $30,000
    suite with 150 doctors and nurses around the clock. Normal births
    should be conducted in adjunct facilities with access to emergency
    care or C section surgery ,if needed, but at a reasonable fixed cost.

    TRUE FACT : My vasectomy was denied by my insurace company
    at a cost of $1,200. However, my wife is eligable to have as many
    $30,000 hospital visits as she wants for as many kids as we can
    produce. Lets do the math here folks. Big savings for the country no?

    #2 Simple procedures like taking off a fatty deposit from your arm
    used to be an in office procedure costing maybe $150 in 1980. Today
    the same procedure costs nearly $8000 in most outpatient hospital
    facilities. I know this because I have the old bills and the new ones.
    #3. Simply make a law which makes it illegal to take away a family
    home in the event of unpaid medical bills. This is really the most
    feared problem by the public anyway. Just nip it in the bud without
    overhauling the whole system.

    August 25, 2009 at 9:57 pm |
  32. Joe from Pennsylvania

    I'm a registered independent who voted for Obama. I voted for Obama because he sounded as if he would be more fiscally conservative than McCain. That, and given the fact that the Republicans weren't fiscally responsible when they had power, is what led to my vote. My opinion at the time was that nobody could be worse in regard to fiscal irresponsibility than Bush.

    So far, it appears I made a huge mistake in my evaluation of Obama. He has literally outdone Bush's fiscal irresponsibility and is showing no signs of letting up. He's going to drive our already damaged country into the ground if he does wake up and start getting our financial house in order.

    The ugly truth is that America cannot afford any kind of reform. We're broke. Our government cannot balance the budget and, therefore, cannot pay down the debt.

    The president needs to do the following:
    1) create a budget surplus by both cutting spending and raising taxes and put a lock on that surplus to pay down the debt. He needs to do this right now.
    2) create incentives for the private sector to grow the economy and increase the GDP
    3) establish term limits right now for Congress. Part of what has led to America's demise is selfish politicians who are more concerned with their re-election than what's best for this country.

    It just absolutely amazes me how these politicians in Washington can allow our country to be so financially mismanaged. It's just inexcusable.

    August 25, 2009 at 9:57 pm |
  33. David

    Raise taxes? If we passed a law taxing every dollar of income above $250,000 (a 100% top tax rate), we would still be running a deficit. Can you say massive middle class tax increase? What about Obama's "no new taxes on anybody making less that $250,000" pledge. Can you say deep doo doo?

    August 25, 2009 at 9:46 pm |
  34. Jeanne, Elkhart, IN

    Ultimately, if we don't change our spending habits, we'll be called Chinamerica, a country owned and operated by China.

    August 25, 2009 at 9:46 pm |
  35. Harold R.Chorney

    Rudy,the debt to the GDP is 78% not the deficit . The deficit to the GDP is just under 11 %. you have to distinguish between the annual deficit or surplus and the accumulation of deficits and surpluses over time which amounts to the debt. you also have to understand that a large proportion of ther debt is financed by American savers and taxpayers who correctly consider the bonds and treasury bills as assets.. A much smaller proportion is financed by foreign savers who buy the debt and sell the debt on the money markets. Some of the debt is held that is bought and kept by a wide range of government departments and pension funds.
    with respect to Japan it has a much higher debt to GDP ratio than the U.S. Great Britain and France and Germany have ratios that are not that far from those of the U.S.. Americans only import a small percentage of their GDP So if in fact as opposed to in theory the American dollar falls substantially in value with respect to trading partners' currencies because of the rise in indebtedness, something which I suspect will not happen or if it does will reverse as the American economy begins to grow again and unemployment begins to drop the hardship imposed will not be what you are suggesting. China will probably strengthen as an economy but with a cheaper dollar and trade American exporters ought to benefit unless China imposes unfair trade restrictions on imported goods.
    Finally Rudy don't worry you can always switch classes and find a more congenial prof.

    August 25, 2009 at 9:42 pm |
  36. Dave Nolan

    In the end the grandest of all political plans, government run health care, may die because all of the plans and promises made before turn out to false. The growing avalanche of deficits will begin to undermine support of centrist, moderate Democrats, and will gradually move to the left. In the end, only the most liberal and reckless of our representatives will try to burden us with this beast under the guise of helping us.

    Somewhere, someday an historian will look back on this Autumn as the time we slowed our declined (even if just momentarily) or as the time we turned on the boosters to our financial doom

    August 25, 2009 at 9:39 pm |
  37. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    As far as I'm concerned, the Obama administration, and the present Congress, are being just little shy of treasonously irresponsible.

    August 25, 2009 at 9:36 pm |
  38. Jeanne, Elkhart, IN

    It only stands to reason that our government wants to take over health care too. How many of us really believe that the govt. can do a better job than the private sector. We all know that the private sector will not exist 10 – 15 years from now. Sure, we need reform, but not including the government. Everything they touch, loses money. When will we wake up, and ask these jerks in government for accountability? How can President Obama appoint the green czar knowing that this guy spent time in prison and became a Communist while in prison. Why doesn't anybody in the House or Senate ask any questions or care about these radical choices? Who is actually writing these proposed bills? How can Obama be so far off on our national debt? We made a big mistake on choices this past election.

    August 25, 2009 at 9:32 pm |
  39. Jay from Jersey

    Prof. Gergen, you say it like it is, in plain talk. So why hasn't President Obama woken up to the realities and implications of this massive deficit?

    I'm an independent who voted for President Obama, but am fast becoming disenchanted with his poor leadership.

    August 25, 2009 at 9:31 pm |
  40. Joe

    I love these supposed Obama-voters now regretful over their youthful indescresion. It sounds more like a GOP PR campaign. You REALLY want to fix underfunded programs? Fine, raise taxes. No? Then you're the problem.

    August 25, 2009 at 9:28 pm |
  41. Mary Ann

    Sadly, we cannot afford to redesign our health care system by creating a new government program. President Obama needs to recognize that his primary responsibility must be to trim the federal deficit and debt. The only health care actions that should be taken are those where there is a consensus that it will lead to reduced deficits. Such a streamlining will improve the health care system if we can bring health care costs down and thereby make it more accessible to the uninsured. This country made a huge mistake not dealing with health care in 1993 and now we must pay the price. But all is not so negative -- we have come a long way in understanding what the problem is so if we pull together we can improve our health care system and bring the deficit down. We just have to stop emphasizing "comprehensive reform" and start focusing on incremental reform. I don't know if Obama has this leadership capacity in him– I pray that he does. Thanks for your article.

    August 25, 2009 at 9:27 pm |
  42. mark

    what has the government every done efficient and under projected cost? Nothing!! Tell me 1 thing they have ever done that became efficient!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 25, 2009 at 9:22 pm |
  43. Rudy

    The reply offered by Professor Chorney is mind bogling. The world has changed. The other contries have caught up with US, at least in the living standards. It is not the case where after War Wold II only America left standing. A deficit of 74% of the GNP is worst than that of England, Germany or Japan. As for France the socialist, numbers do not describe their pain due to their deficit. Every one there works for the Government. The Prof should know that such deficit would further lower the dollar and therefore our wages would buy much less. There will be no room for savings. China would ultimately buy all the good Amercan assets left. Imagine having this professor as your econimist

    August 25, 2009 at 9:20 pm |
  44. Caral

    The healthcare system in Britain is one of the largest employers in the world. Heavy on administration, its costs are staggering. The Canadian system is "imploding" according to its own administration, due to the incredibly high costs. Economics 101 will tell you that if there is no accountability in the form of a profit motive found through a free market system, there is no reason to control costs and no true way to do that. Want to REALLY reform healthcare in a way that would benefit every American? Tort reform is a good place to start, supporting clinics run by doctors that are currently working well – such as the Cleveland clinic, such as UCLA. Think carefully about what Pres. Obama said – true, the Post Office has not eliminated Fed Ex and UPS. In fact, the gov't supported Post Office is the one that can never make money, has the worst customer satisfaction, and the longest lines. The free market competitors can't afford any of that.

    August 25, 2009 at 9:19 pm |
  45. mark

    Gergin- I bet you have a hard time deciding what type a head of lettuce you will choose from a grocery store- you are the true middle/moderate- form a committee type of guy- with people like you America would never go forward

    August 25, 2009 at 9:19 pm |
  46. Jim from Denver

    I agree that the debt makes this harder, but I don't think it should stop it so long as it is paid for with new revenue. I would rather see us reduce our deficits by cutting some of our military spending, particularly the war in Iraq.

    August 25, 2009 at 9:13 pm |
  47. rm

    The debt projection has increased this year mainly because last year, in the throes of the financial crisis, it was impossible to correctly estimate the shortfall in revenues and the damage to the economy.

    Though there seem to be many on CNNs boards who rant and rave about how Obama caused this, most people know on whose watch this crisis happened.

    To RNC hacks here: You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time. Yeah, some of the people – the bible-thumping 30% and your corporate buddies – your base.

    But, your fooling days are over. People KNOW who caused this – and that man is quite silent since he left the white house, ain't he?

    August 25, 2009 at 9:11 pm |
  48. N. Manetavat

    The Govt. has deficits because the peoples do not pay enough taxes.
    When the Govt. borrows and spends it will benifit the peoples. It will make peoples rich because when the Govt. spends money, money will go back to American peoples irectly or indirectly. The rich peoples get more benifits from Govt. spending because they have money to invest. In 1985 we had 13 billionaires but now we have over 1000. The money did not come from other country because we have trade deficits, then the money has to come from Govt. In 2001 we had Fed. surplus because Americans paid more taxes.
    For healthcare, ask yourself what is the function fo private health insurance. Insurance acks as a middle man, collect your premiums, set aside for the profit, pays the provider less and less. One CEO's salary and benifit the doctor has to work a hundred years.

    August 25, 2009 at 9:09 pm |
  49. Maureen - NC

    This is so frustrating to me. During the campaign, CNN fully threw their support behind Obama and did not provide fair coverage. The POTUS said he was going to fundamentally change America!! What exactly did you all think he was talking about?

    August 25, 2009 at 9:08 pm |
  50. Rudy

    David! The president can do it. First, he has to do a one payer system. You do that by declaring that it is illegal to charge a patient unless and only by payment from the system. The system creates tariffs for each service provided and keeps a log of how many patients the Doctor sees daily. No attendance to specialist unless there is a refaral from the general practioner. Within the system provide the Doctors insurance coverage, free, with tenacious in house counsel who defends any unreasonable claim to the teeth. Have a limit of pain and suffering up to $100,000 being the highest amount on the scale. Of course future loses are excluded from this limit. Abolish punitive damages fr medical law suits unless fraud is claimed and proved. That is the Canandian way and everybody including the Doctors are now content and happy. All employees pay 3% of their wages for the coverage and the employer another 2%. That is how the Workers Compensation Board operates. and it is self financed.

    August 25, 2009 at 9:07 pm |
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