ObamaCare and the Deficit

House Republicans plan to vote tomorrow to repeal last year’s health care overhaul. You can read the text of the repeal legislation here.

One of the key defenses of the law is that it will reduce the deficit over the next decade and the decades to come. But the projections employed to make this argument just aren’t believable. Democrats gamed the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring process, producing a score that distorted the long-term numbers and was believable only under a set of fantastic and improbable assumptions.

By now, the contours of this argument are fairly well mapped out. But for a clear and detailed refresher, you’d do well to read this op-ed by former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, EPPC’s James Capretta, and AEI’s Joseph Antos in today’s Wall Street Journal:

It's all about budget gimmicks, deceptive accounting, and implausible assumptions used to create the false impression of fiscal discipline.

For starters, that $1 trillion price is a low-ball estimate, covering only six – not ten – years of subsidies that don't begin until 2014. The uninsured were clearly less of a priority than the deception of making the law look less expensive than it really is over its first decade. Over ten years of full implementation, it's more like $2.3 trillion.

Next up is the CLASS Act (for the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act) providing a new long-term care insurance entitlement. CLASS hitched a ride on the ACA for one reason only: premiums are collected in the first ten years, but no benefits are provided. Voila, it creates the perception of $70 billion in deficit reduction. In fact, CLASS is a bailout waiting to happen, as it will attract mainly sick enrollees. Only in Washington could the creation of a reckless entitlement program be used as "offset" to grease the way for another entitlement.

The deepest spending cuts in the ACA are in Medicare. Let us be very clear: Medicare needs real reform that generates genuine budget savings. Sadly, the ACA's cuts are illusory. Medicare's payments to health care providers would fall below those of Medicaid. The network of hospitals and physicians willing to care for Medicaid patients is notoriously constrained. About 15 percent of the nation's hospitals would have to stop seeing Medicare patients in just a few years to stem their losses. The idea that Medicare could pay less than Medicaid is such sheer folly that Congress will rapidly reverse course. What's worse, ACA's advocates are double-counting this fictional savings, claiming it can pay both for the ACA's entitlements and Medicare solvency too. The truth is, these cuts cannot be relied upon to pay for anything.

The fantasy of deficit reduction from the ACA is also built on a $410 billion tax increase over the coming decade, and a flood of revenue in the years after built on cynically replicating the flawed AMT-style revenue creep. New Medicare taxes initially apply only to individuals with incomes over $200,000 and couples with incomes above $250,000. But those income thresholds do not rise with inflation, so more and more families will pay them each year. Similarly, the new "Cadillac tax" on expensive insurance applies to premiums for family coverage above $27,500 in 2018, but that threshold will rise with general inflation, not medical costs. It's particularly noteworthy that this tax is instrumental to the claim of deficit reduction in the second decade, but it is so controversial that Barack Obama was never willing to collect it himself. Overall, CBO says the ACA's tax hikes will reach 1.2 percent of GDP in 2035, or a whopping $180 billion annually in today's terms.

So, even if CBO's analysis were flawless, the authors of the ACA guaranteed a misleading bottom line. Their legislative prescriptions were written to create deficit reduction only on paper— not in reality.

When the CBO issued its scores for the health care overhaul, there was always a line cautioning that the deficit reduction was contingent upon the law being executed exactly as planned. Some of the scores even included a note specifically mentioning certain instances in which Congress has had trouble following through on its cost-cutting plans in the past. There’s a reason those warnings were included in the scores. As Holtz-Eakin, Capretta, and Antos make quite plain, the plans that Congress made in this bill made aren’t plausible. And that means that its alleged deficit reduction isn’t either.

The PPACA was a coverage bill, not a cost-containment bill. Its designers, in their unguarded moments, have been clear about this. For example, here’s David Bowen, a former health staff director of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee—one of the key committees involved in writing the law:

"In Mass., there was a very conscious decision to do coverage first, knowing that that would bring on a cost battle second...We certainly made the same decision. This is a coverage bill, not a cost reduction bill. There is stuff here that will begin to address the issue of cost, but this is not a cost reduction bill with a bit of coverage on it—it is really trying to get coverage first."

As Bowen says, the PPACA lifted the major components of its design from the Massachusetts plan passed by Mitt Romney. But as lawmakers behind that plan told The New York Times in 2009, that legislative succeeded in passing “only by deferring the big decisions on cost containment.” The hope was that bringing more people into the system would make it easier to bring down costs. More people would have a stake, so more people would care about making the system work. But that was always a risky gambit. And the more likely outcome was a system burdened by the significant new costs of a new health insurance entitlement— and still no way to control the cost to the public of providing coverage.

The federal government lifted quite a bit from the Massachusetts plan, including its focus on coverage rather than cost-containment. I’ve called it the buy now, pay later strategy in the past, and I still think that sums it up. We bought. And now, without repeal, we’ll have to pay.

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  • Rich||

  • ||

    The WSJ article linked is dated January 19, 2011.

  • ||

    Why do you hate the future?

  • Ice Nine||

    Ah, if I could read tomorrow's WSJ I'd be retired on Friday.

  • ||

    The best part of Romney/Obama Care is that is kills Medicare Advantage.

    Nevertheless, the Teabagger Medicare Preservation Lobby will still be able to game the system for unlimited medical costs - which is shameful.

  • ||

    How could anybody believe this thing makes sense, on any level?

  • Tim||

    Depends on which "free" drugs you're on at the time.

  • ||

    It's a simple 3 step process:

    1) O-Care passed
    2) ?
    3) Profit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Tim||

    The gut churning thing about this debate, for me at least, is all the tear jerking sob stories that will be wheeled out to defend status quo: the 23 year old cancer patient, the 9 year old with some hideously rare disease, the 96 year old medal of honor winner with no family to care for him.

    All these people need help but they're just a screen to hand out free benefits to healthy people who can't be bothered to provide for themselves.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    The funny thing is that it always turns out that those people were getting care anyway.

    That's the problem with this "health care reform" law. We're already paying, one way or another, for universal health care in this country. Obamacare is not about health care, it's about government.

  • ||

    I know, I used to work in a medical clinic in another life, before going to law school. A lot of the patients there were poor. If they were on Medicaid that's how they got their medications. If they made too much for Medicaid but still couldn't afford their meds, every pharmaceutical company had a PAP (patient assistance program) that gave them their meds for a small charge (usually $5 per Rx). These were the same pharmaceutical companies attacked as being greedy, etc. Yet you hear all the time that people have to choose between paying for medications or paying their light bill.

    That was years ago so I'd be interested to know if the situation is similar today.

  • ||

    All these people need help but they're just a screen to hand out free benefits to healthy people who can't be bothered to provide for themselves.
    ___________________________

    It's far worse than that. Obamacare is premised on the idea that these folks shouldn't have to be bothered with providing for themselves in the first place. Health care is not a benefit to be sought and obtained by responsible people, it is a "right" to which all are entitled by virtue of their mere existence.

    It's also the left's long-sought launching pad for the direct regulation os every aspect of life: what we eat, how we live, etc. Once A must provide health care to B, A becomes the de facto master of B.

  • ||

    Master: US
    Slave: http://www.anthc.org/

    As a tribal member, and an 11 year Navy vet I have extensive experience with GOVMED.
    It SUCKS.

  • Rahm Emanuel||

    If anyone ever actually believed adding a huge new entitlement would reduce the deficit, they're fucking retarded.

  • ||

    its an insurance regulation bill einstein

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: OhioOrrin,

    No, it is not. It IS an entitlement.

  • DesigNate||

    Yeah, tell that to the insurance giants who helped author the bill behind closed doors.

  • Al Gore||

    Tell it to THIS!

  • Rahm Emanuel||

    Fucking retards.

  • ||

    Can't we all agree that Obamacare both tastes great and is less filling?

    With that hurdle cleared, can't we all agree that Palin is responsible for Tucson?

  • ||

    As far as the fiscal argument goes, I think the Obamanauts are wasting their time. No one who cares about fiscal discipline believes for an instant, or can be convinced, that ObamaCare reduces the deficit, or that repealing it will increase the deficit. Arguing to the contrary won't change one vote in Congress, or one mind in the country at large.

  • ||

    Not caring about fiscal discipline or the truth, Obamanauts reject your argument, and will continue their campaign of bald-faced lies to serve the "greater good" of free health care for all.

  • Tim||

    $14,050,453,721,345.65 more or less

    http://www.usdebtclock.org/

  • ||

    The Bushpigs turned Clinton's surplus into a $1.3 trillion annual deficit - thus many of us former Republicans (like Bartlett) have sworn eternal hatred for the GOP.

  • Draco||

    Well, you are misinformed if you think a surplus is a good thing. Don't feel bad though, most people agree with you. Most people are ill-informed, and think that their kitchen table budget principles apply to a nation with a fiat currency. They don't.

    Running any kind of real surplus for more than a very short period would be a monetary disaster. Running a manageable but persistent deficit is the only way to increase the money supply in a growing economy. You can find out more at my blog by clicking my name, or you can read moslereconomics.com.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Draco,

    Most people are ill-informed, and think that their kitchen table budget principles apply to a nation with a fiat currency. They don't.

    Yes, they do, even with fiat currency. An increasing money supply does not translate to more goods or services, just like reducing the size of the inch in a ruler to have more inches in it does not translate to a bigger house.

    Running a manageable but persistent deficit is the only way to increase the money supply in a growing economy.

    Which begs the question, as you assume a growing economy somehow needs a growing money supply.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    He's also misinformed if the thinks Clinton had anything to do with creating any surplus.

  • ||

    All these people need help but they're just a screen to hand out free benefits to healthy people who can't be bothered to provide for themselves.

    What is truly precious about this flavor of argumentum is that it works perfectly well in either direction; the gungrabbers point to a Jared Loughner, who is such an outlier you have to look in the appendix to find him, and say, "This is why Nobody Nowhere can safely be trusted to own a gun!"

  • ||

    See? Even Moron of the Week OhioOrrin understands the Bill has NOTHING to do with health care.

  • Old Mexican||

    "The fantasy of deficit reduction from the ACA is also built on a $410 billion tax increase over the coming decade, and a flood of revenue in the years after built on cynically replicating the flawed AMT-style revenue creep.




    Because a tax increase increases revenue... everybody knows that!!!

    "The Stupid is strong with this one."

  • ||

    Perhaps the smartest thing the Repubs can do at this juncture is to split the massive tax increases from the gargantuan spending increases when discussing the bill.

    The Dems are on record after last month as saying that you shouldn't increase taxes on weak economy. Well, looky here, we have over a half a trillion in new taxes coming down the pike!

    Spending has got to be brought under control. Existing spending programs will need to be dealt with, but before we get to those, lets cut spending that no one is relying on yet. Hey, look over there, nearly a trillion in brand-new planned spending! Cutting that won't upset any applecarts, because no one has ever received a dime under those programs.

    Really, the Dems only rhetorical play here is the parade o' victims. The parade o' victims can easily be turned into an argument that Medicaid has failed, and opens the door to a comprehensive restructuring of Medicaid.

  • ||

    The Bushpigs turned Clinton's surplus into a $1.3 trillion annual deficit - thus many of us former Republicans (like Bartlett) have sworn eternal hatred for the GOP.

    Seriously, Shriek, what the fuck is wrong with you? Are you waiting for somebody to pin a fucking medal on you?

    Why don't you go annoy somebody who doesn't already despise Bush?

  • ||

    opens the door to a comprehensive restructuring of Medicaid.

    Oh, I wish...

  • Tony||

    Maybe the CBO analysis is faulty... but Cantor has no problem going to it when it suits his own purposes.

    The real conundrum is why we're still entertaining the ridiculous conceit that Republicans care about the deficit.

  • ||

    ""The real conundrum is why we're still entertaining the ridiculous conceit that Republicans care about the deficit.""

    For the same reason we entertain the idea that the Dems are for serving the people, instead of themselves.

    People just want to believe.

  • Tony||

    The House Dem majority just went down in flames, at least in part because a bunch of swing-district Reps voted for healthcare and other legislation meant to help people instead of their reelection chances.

    Republicans are skating on their oh-so-brave platform of "lower taxes and reduce the deficit, by magic!"

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    [...]because a bunch of swing-district Reps voted for healthcare and other legislation meant to help people instead of their reelection chances.

    Not that those reps. did not have previous warning, as The People showed BEFORE the ACA voting that they did not want it. Which means they were either stupid, naive, arrogant, or all of the above.

  • Tony||

    True, if it had been real healthcare reform, it would have been much more popular. You guys always neglect to mention that so much dislike for the bill comes from liberals.

  • ||

    Yup. The problem is that they hit the rim of the Grand Canyon at only 75 mph. Everyone knows you have to go at least 100!

  • ||

    Who cares about the deficit? It seems like we only care about it when we're trying to do something important to save the lives of Americans. When we're throwing American lives at foreign dictators we don't seem to care nearly as much about the deficit. (Oh but look at the pretty shiney aircraft carrier! Who cares if your mom can't get health insurance!)

  • Tony||

    Or giving welfare checks to rich people.

  • Rahm Emanuel||

    Fucking retard.

  • ||

    I'm also against all these green energy subsidies.

    Al Gore seems to be doing pretty well for himself. Doesn't he know he's supposed to spread the wealth?

  • DesigNate||

    You must be new here. We don't like "throwing American lives at foreign dictators" or shiny new Aircraft carriers. And health care is not a "right".

  • Draco||

    What are you guys worried about? We'll just tax the rich even more when need be. The solution to every fiscal problem!

  • ||

    u mean like clinton when we had budget surpluses? that's some bad plan harry

  • ||

    the ridiculous conceit that Republicans care about the deficit.

    "It's bad when Republicans do it!"

    Is that the best you can do? Politicians, as a species, are liars and hypocrites.

    The ridiculous conceit delusion is that any of these people give a shit about anybody but themselves.

  • Tony||

    Is this tiresome false equivalence the best you can do? It really only serves to benefit the actual worse actors. "They're all the same, might as well vote for Republicans!"

  • Rahm Emanuel||

    Fucking retard.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Yes. False equivalence. Like saying that not taxing someone as much as you potentially could is equivalent to giving them a welfare cheque.
    And by the way, nobody here seems to be arguing in favour of voting republican.

  • Tony||

    It is the same as a welfare check, and framing it in those terms, I think, makes it clear just what the GOP is all about.

    Usually people respond by saying that a tax cut isn't the same as a welfare check because it's "their money." Well, that begs the question. It's either their money or it belongs to the treasury (i.e., the people).

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Well, since it's part of their salary from their employer for the work they do, or from their customer for the goods they sell, I would argue it's clearly their money, since the treasury didn't do the work or sell the goods the money's exchanged for. Doesn't your position lead to the conclusion that the entirety of everyone's wage belongs to the people, and that any money the government fails to confiscate is a welfare cheque?

  • Tony||

    Not the entirety of one's wages, just the part owed to the state. If tax policy is changed so that you owe less, it's the functional equivalent of a check cut to you. Rich people no more earned that money than poor people did a welfare check, except the latter probably worked a lot harder relative to the amount of dollars at stake.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    It's not the 'functional equivalent of a cheque cut to you'. If I earn X amount of money, and the state say I owe 20%, according to you I rightfully own 80% of that money and the people rightfully own the other 20%. If the state decides (without my consent, remember) that I owe 90% of the money I only rightfully own 10% of what I earned. However, I contracted for 100% of it and did the work I was contracted to do. All of that money is rightfully mine because the person who owned it before me said I could have it: says so in the contract. Furthermore, according to you, if the state cuts my taxes from 90% to 80% then they have doubled my earnings with welfare, a situation that's absurd since I earned all of it, and the state earned none of it.

  • Tony||

    But in a world where income taxes exist, the state is entitled to a certain portion of that money, which you know going in, and which is in fact a term of a different contract to which you are a party. (Meaning, incidentally, that it's not without your consent.) The state "earned" its cut by providing many of the aspects of a stable environment in which it's possible for you make any money at all, not least by giving that money its value.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Social contract theory doesn't work. If the state wants to provide a stable environment in exchange for payment, they can ask me for a subscription. If I choose to forgo the use of their services (which I wouldn't - I'd be quite happy to pay voluntarily, but that means I have to have to choice not to pay), they can't take my money. The only way a state can give money it's value is by taxing it, in which case it takes on an inherent usefulness in that it can be used to pay taxes. But that's begging the question. Your argument would be fine if I was allowed to establish my own currency which is not subject to taxation, but that's against the law. And just because income taxes exist doesn't mean that the states entitled to a portion of my money - what it means is that state has the power to take it. You're surely not arguing that what the state does is morally acceptable because it's capable of doing it. And yes, I know going in that I'll be taxed. But the situation is this: X is selling his labour to Y in exchange for money. X knows that Z will steal some of the money before the sale is made. That doesn't make Z's stealing of X's money voluntary on X's part.
    Feel free to say 'but you're free to leave the country whenever you want' (not entirely true), and I'll tell you why that argument's bullshit. Yes, I just poisoned the well. Care for a drink?

  • Tony||

    Social contract theory doesn't work.

    You better hope it does, because modern democratic civilization depends on it.

    If I choose to forgo the use of their services ... they can't take my money.

    Oh, you predicted what I was going to say. Yeah, you can forgo the services, but in order to put that into practice you really would have to move. Not only does staying within the territory of the country in question provide you with services, tangible and intangible, from which you can't escape, the land you live on is under the jurisdiction of a government or governments, and they are perfectly within their right to tax you for the privilege. I'm curious why you think the argument is bullshit. It may not be like 100% satisfying to someone who thinks we live in a world of individual snow globes in which total autonomy is possible, but we don't. The land beneath your feet does not belong to you unconditionally, and for good reason.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Not only does staying within the territory of the country in question provide you with services, tangible and intangible, from which you can't escape"

    They aren't providing those who pay no taxes with any less "services" than they are providing to me. In fact they are providing them with more, since a large chunk of what you leftists try to categorize as "services" are in fact nothing more than transfer payments.

  • Tony||

    They aren't providing those who pay no taxes with any less "services" than they are providing to me.

    That's the point I was making. You can't not benefit, even if just by being here, since your land will be defended by the armed forces whether you pay or not, one among many examples. But who doesn't pay any taxes?

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Actually I really don't have a problem with people who pay less receiving more. In fact I'm in favour of it, in theory. As long as the money that pays for it comes voluntarily.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Actually I don't own any land. My landlord does. I have a contract with my landlord that says I can live in his house on his land. It's his land. He bought it from the guy who owned it previously. What is the government's claim on the land? Did the government farm it? No. Did the government build on it? No. Did the government pay for it? No (and if it did, it paid for it with money it stole). It may proclaim this land part of its territory, it may proclaim it within its jurisdiction, but that doesn't make it so. Anyone could proclaim it their territory - the government, the mob, ten guys in norway. None of them has a legitimate claim on the land. My landlord, on the other hand, actually owns it.
    You can't be claiming that I voluntarily subscribe to services 'from which [I] can't escape'. That's clearly a contradiction in terms. As to the services from which I can escape, I could voluntarily forgo them, in theory, if the state would allow me to, and didn't force me to pay for them. As I say, I wouldn't. I would voluntarily pay for those services, including (I'm in Britain, if you couldn't tell from my weird spelling) the NHS and the BBC. I do however resent being threatened with jail for not paying for these things.

  • Tony||

    My landlord, on the other hand, actually owns it.

    Well, he only owns it because there is an agreed-upon definition of "ownership," codified by law. It doesn't come without obligations. Should he be allowed to commit murder on his land? No--meaning government has jurisdiction. It's his land but it's part of the country's territory. He can try to claim it under his own flag, but he wouldn't get very far. It was British territory long before it was owned by him, ownership, again, meaning something other than "total command and control of." In a sense, he's renting the land from the country.

    You can't be claiming that I voluntarily subscribe to services 'from which [I] can't escape'.

    Sure I can. It's voluntary because you're free to renounce your citizenship. But as long as you live within the territory of your country, you're benefiting from all of the tangible and intangible services its government provides (such as providing a definition of ownership and rentership and granting the associated rights and privileges).

    Of course there will be things you have to pay for that you don't like. As an American I'm not please by the fact that a vast portion of our public budget goes to blowing up innocent Muslims. But a fee-for-service system just isn't feasible for all such services, especially since it's hard to quantify just how much you individually benefit from certain things. One deals with this by engaging in democracy and getting policy changed, but nobody ever said you had a right to a country that's exactly how you want it in every way.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    I don't expect a country to be exactly how I want it to be. But I think it's right that I be able to use my property exactly as I want to (but not other people's). No, my landlord cannot murder someone on his land, unless (and this is very unlikely) that person agreed to be killed. This is because, while the land may be his property, the people on it are not. They're essentially their own property - indeed, their primary property. However, if my landlord said 'you can only come on my land if you agree I'm allowed to kill you', you can agree, or you can not go on his land. Or you can trespass. If you do the third thing you should go to jail for trespassing (a jail paid for voluntarily, of course).
    I don't think the term 'British territory' means anything. The land's part of Britain only because a succession of pompous jackasses have proclaimed it part of Britain 'by divine right'. The situation in the US isn't much better: it was essentially proclaimed the US by right of conquest. In the meantime, in both countries, people have used the land to farm, and to build houses and factories and offices, using their own labour or labour they've contracted. The right of ownership over the labour entails a right of ownership over the land (and I'm not fooling myself here: I know you've heard this stuff before. I'm just interested in your response). These people a the rightful owners of the land: it can't simply be proclaimed 'territory' by someone else, whether or not they've got a shiny hat and a big sword.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Sorry I forgot something: we don't need to calculate the individual benefits of state actions. If you've agreed to pay for it, you pay what you agreed. I you haven't agreed to pay for it, you don't pay. I don't see a problem with people who haven't paid benefiting.

  • ||

    Question begging 101

    by Tony

    We all owe money to the government, because whenever we make money we owe some of it to the government. That's the government's money! Because!

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Rich people no more earned that money than poor people did a welfare check"

    Prove it.

  • Tony||

    Gilbert, how does sitting on your ass while plutocratic politicians decide to write you a check constitute "earning" in any way?

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Prove that that's where rich people's money comes from.

  • ||

    Tony you're projecting again. Governments write checks to poor people. Everyone else has their money taken away by the government. The government taking away less is not "writing a check." Only in BizarroTonyLand is that true.

  • Tony||

    Only in bizarro libertarian land does it make a difference, based on what I presume is the standard moral calculus wherein wealth = virtue.

  • ||

    The distinction between private property and public property makes no difference? Either money that is given to you in payment is yours or it is not. It seems this is a very important, very apparent distinction.

    You continue to assert that this distinction is arbitrary, but then you claim that a certain amount belongs to the government. Not only is that claim even more arbitrary, but it isn't even internally consistent.

  • ||

    Another reason your claim isn't internally consistent is because up until the question-begging argument, taxes are justified as payment for government services. But this argument necessitates question-begging because government is not analogous to a business providing a service. A business can't force you to accept its services. A business can't force everyone to pay for services rendered to a few. A business cannot coerce. Thus we need a reason why government coercion is legitimate. And here is where your question begging comes in. "Well of course the government can coerce people into giving them money, it's the government's money in the first place!" This is also shows why you feel the need to play with words and reverse roles. It makes sense that a business would legitimately be able to use the power of law if a customer owed them money. Again, you are relying on a false analogy and role reversal.

  • Tony||

    Thus we need a reason why government coercion is legitimate.

    Consent of the governed. Sorry you don't get your way, but we can't give every half-baked political ideology a try. I'm not one to tell you what to believe, but it might be better for your frustration level just to stop worrying and accept 300 years of democratic political theory and the dividends it has paid.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    You can't give consent to coercion. If you've consented, it's not coercion. Anyway, you do realise that in the last 300 years there have been other kinds of political theory that democratic, liberal political theory, right? There are alternatives to John Rawls, and lots of people don't find Rawls convincing. There's Karl Marx, John Locke, Rousseau, Payne, Trotsky, Rand, Spooner, Tucker, Bentham, Rothbard, Nozick, Woolf, and yes, Rawls. Some of these people's arguments are better than others, and it is patently ridiculous to assess their theories on the basis of which is the least frustrating. So, no, we shouldn't just 'accept' 300 years of democratic political theory for the same reason you wouldn't accept Marxist theory: we reject it on the merits of particular arguments.

  • Tony||

    Either money that is given to you in payment is yours or it is not

    It is. So what's the difference between income from a tax cut or income from a welfare check? Both recipients are entitled to that money by law. Is it that you think all taxes are unjust, or do you just have a problem with poor people?

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "It is. So what's the difference between income from a tax cut or income from a welfare check? Both recipients are entitled to that money by law"

    More nonsense.

    People whose taxes are cut are not "recepients" of anything. They already had the money in the first place.

  • ||

    Comrade, do you have a Five Year Plan you could share with us?

  • Poppin' Caps lock||

    Assuming that they truly care about reducing the deficit (which is really, really hard to assume even if one is being optimistic), the GOP is being quite unrealistic about repealing Obamacare. They have the Democrat-controlled Senate and a guaranteed veto from Obama to contend with. It's like they don't even know what's required for a bill to become law.

    Which, of course, strongly suggests that this is all a grand, empty gesture.

  • ||

    Buy now, pay later
    Vote now, read later.

    Not much of a difference.

  • ||

    The House Dem majority just went down in flames, at least in part because a bunch of swing-district Reps voted for healthcare and other legislation meant to help people instead of their reelection chances.

    I think Tony really believes this. Its sad, really. The selfless Dems, sacrificing their careers to advance a 2000 page bill written by health insurers, big pharma, big medicine, and empire-building bureaucrats with the sole purpose of helping the Little Guy.

  • Tony||

    No argument from me that the healthcare law is a crap sandwich, mostly because of the right-wing corporate shaft stroking that was necessary to stop it from failing entirely. By failing, of course, I mean not getting an unconstitutional supermajority in the senate, requiring the cooperation of DINOs. At least the Dems recognize the need for healthcare reform, unlike the other party who thinks all problems can be solved by giving welfare checks to rich people, assuming they recognize a problem at all ("America has the best healthcare system in the world!")

  • Rahm Emanuel||

    Fucking retard.

  • ||

    Four years of Democratic rule in the Congress and two years of having the whole enchilada. Good times, good times.

  • ||

    To be honest with you, Tony, I would rather see "honest" crooks in office instead of selfless do-gooders who (purely by happenstance) become wealthy as a byproduct of their selfless steal-from-the-rich-to-give-to-the-poor pursuit of a Better Life for the Little Guy.

  • ||

    "It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's greed may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point may be sated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they have the approval of their own conscience."

    C. S. Lewis

  • Tony||

    So better to have people who aren't even pretending to be doing the people's work than those who try to do the people's work. Not that the GOP doesn't couch their self-serving plutocratic bullshit in flimsy rhetoric about how giving welfare to rich people will help the economy, and not that you idiots don't lap it all up.

  • ||

    I am appalled by both Dems and Repubs so don't throw that at me. But yes, I would rather deal with greed than with utopian do gooders. With crooks at least you know who you are dealing with and what their motives are. Powerful people who think they are on a mission from God to save the world are more unpredictable, and thus more scary.

  • ||

    And with greed you're dealing with reality. There are lots of do gooders in the world. But approximately zero of them go into politics.

  • Tony||

    There's not much you can say in response to rank cynicism.

  • cynical||

    The truth requires no response. It simply is.

  • ||

    Do you have a permit for that anti-government rhetoric?

  • ||

    "false" equivalence?

    You keep using this word...

  • Tony||

    It would be highly coincidental if both parties were equally bad at everything, especially considering most of their policy positions are in opposition. I think asserting an equivalency is just laziness.

  • T||

    We don't claim the parties are equally bad at everything, simply that they are equally bad.

    Of course, with the Obama administration, the distinction has been eroding. Given the number of issues where Obama has continued every shitty, failed policy of the Bush administration, there's a functional equivalence between the Ds and Rs in way too many areas. That's what bipartisanship gets you: a crap sandwich both sides agree you need to eat for their good.

  • ||

    The parties are the same in the ways that count. Both insist upon a strong central government to run our lives; they only differ on details such as which parts of our lives require more "supervision", and on how to divide up the booty from their theft.

  • ||

    But there's a new sheriff in town, John Boehner. Aw hell, nevermind.

  • ||

    It would be highly coincidental if both parties were equally bad at everything, especially considering most of their policy positions are in opposition.

    I am not sure why. There is only one right answer to the problem 2+2. There are infinite wrong answers. Just because they don't agree with each other doesn't mean they can't both be wrong.

  • Tony||

    But on planet earth you don't get reality vs. fantasy ideal libertarian world, you get two parties, and changes happen one policy at a time.

  • ||

    I think Tony just came up with a new type of fallacious argument. It goes something like this:

    2 + 2 =

    A. 3

    B. 5

    A and B are the only possible answers. Which one is the right answer?

  • Tony||

    That's not new, that's a false dilemma, in addition to being simply mathematically wrong.

    If both parties are equally bad to you, it either means you haven't bothered to examine their policy positions and weighed them against yours, or your policy positions are so far removed from political reality that you have no hope of influencing it.

  • ||

    "that's a false dilemma"

    You know I've examined closely the policy positions (More important is the political philosophy, but this is basically nonexistent in both parties) of both parties. So, what you're saying is that policy positions that don't fit into the two party spectrum are unrealistic? In other words, you are providing a FALSE DILEMMA. I can either choose democrat or republican. Which one is the right answer?

  • ||

    So better to have people who aren't even pretending to be doing the people's work than those who try to do the people's work.

    "Doing the People's Work."

    Poor, naive little Tony.

    Assume a can opener.

  • ||

    I hate it when politicians say "doing the people's work." Frankly I'd be just happy to pay them to sit with their thumbs up their asses all day as long as they didn't pass any laws.

  • Tony||

    Not even laws to repeal other laws?

    You can't escape policy choices. Not doing anything about something that affects you is a policy choice that will affect you. There's no virtue in doing nothing.

  • Tncm||

    Tony, every time you post about your own philosophy on this blog you expose yourself more and more as being a state communist. I mean, come on; private property is "rented" from the country? Tell me Tony, which came first; society, or government? It is entirely possible to have a society without a government but impossible to have a government without a society. I seriously don't know why anyone on here bothers engaging in serious intellectual discussion with you.

    You, by far, are the thickest person I have ever had the displeasure of talking too.

  • Tony||

    I am not talking about communism. I am not the radical here. I am not saying anything that isn't accepted by everyone outside of libertarian circle jerks. It's amusing and a little disturbing how y'all act like your strange, fringe ideology is obvious truth.

  • ||

    Gosh it's as if libertarians think reason and logic are more important than majority opinion in deciding truth.

  • Tncm||

    "I am not talking about communism."

    You continue to make statements that seem like their copy/pasted from Das Kapital. My grandmother used to have a saying: If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck...

    "I am not saying anything that isn't accepted by everyone outside of libertarian circle jerks."

    Clearly. That's why the Democrats maintained their majority in the Hou-....oh, wait, they didn't.

    "It's amusing and a little disturbing how y'all act like your strange, fringe ideology is obvious truth."

    Whether or not the majority except something as being true is of no importance. For centuries, the Aristotlean logic that the Sun and stars revolve around the Earth was accepted as an "obvious truth".

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