Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Reasonable speech, but not enough specifics on the deficit for me. Similar for the Republican response. Both sides have experienced political success by essentially arguing "I am not as bad as them." That will not be enough going ahead for us to deal with the budget deficit. We need a long term plan that paves a route to a balanced budget. I have said in the past I think the President is the only person who can lead us in this in this Congress.

The longer we wait to address the long term deficit issues--and health care costs are the central long term problem--the fewer options we have. The President's Deficit Commission plan is a good place to start the discussion.

Today, Senator McConnell said that there were 6-9 months that a big effort on the deficit or anything else is possible. He also said that they wouldn't 'debate entitlement reform in public' which is fair enough. I hope Republicans and Democrats are talking behind the scenes about at least some steps to start this process.

I wrote this about Paul Ryan's Roadmap back in February. I have changed my thinking about Social Security a bit since then....basically, the problem with Social Security is not as bad as I thought it was a year ago and I am not sure it makes sense to burn so much political capital with Social Security reform. The problems with Medicare and Medicaid (and health care generally) are even worse than I thought a year ago. We need to tweak Social Security and then set about what will be a 20 year + effort to address health care costs. It is important to remember that Ryan voted against the Deficit Commission proposal even though he should have recognized lots of his ideas in it, so it is a bit hard to take him seriously at this point. He is of course the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, so has plenty of opportunity to prove me wrong.

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