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Posts Tagged ‘fiscal cliff’

Entitlement reform key to U.S. future

February 27th, 2013

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This piece was originally published in Politico.

As the sequester blame game hits fever pitch this week, Republicans’ stance on taxes is simply indefensible, falling hundreds of billions short of even their own prior positions. But as Democrats, we also share a large portion of responsibility for the coming cuts to domestic discretionary spending, as the party has decided in both action and rhetoric that meaningful fixes to the major entitlement programs of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are off-limits.

Think about it. Over the past three years, from debt ceiling deals to the supercommittee and the fiscal cliff, social insurance programs have escaped virtually unscathed while every other category of spending took some hit and revenue grew. And because of the sheer enormousness of the Big 3 entitlements, Democrats face a serious new crisis that is closer to home and will linger long past the sequester: There is now barely a farthing left in the budget for any new investments.

Over the past century, Democrats can boast two major economic legacies. The first is the safety net programs of the New Deal and the Great Society — successful programs that lifted the elderly and vulnerable out of poverty. The second is the New Frontier investment programs defined and expanded under President John F. Kennedy. These investments in science, space, defense, education, as well as highways, rails, ports and medical breakthroughs helped power the U.S. economy during the latter half of the 20th century.

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Post fiscal cliff: The fix is in

January 2nd, 2013

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We’ve been trying to deal with the national debt in this country for 30 years now. The fiscal cliff is just the latest failed gimmick. We’ve had more failed gimmicks than professional wrestling.

Failed? Yes, because the whole idea of the fiscal cliff was to force the federal government to put in place a long-term reduction of the national debt. And look what happened. Instead of reducing the national debt, the deal passed by Congress late Tuesday night will add $4 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

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Corporate tax reform is coming to town

December 21st, 2012

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Those hoping for a fiscal cliff deal this year won’t get their wish before Christmas. But if Santa does deliver a year-end budget deal a few days late, it’s increasingly likely that it will pave the way for corporate tax reform in 2013.

The reasons to wish for corporate tax reform—and the obstacles in its way—were the topics of debate at an idea forum hosted by Third Way and the RATE Coalition on December 5th. Senator Tom Carper (D-Delaware), RATE Coalition Co-chair Elaine Kamarck, Time Warner Cable Senior Vice President & Chief Tax Officer Mark Schichtel, and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) Vice President Melissa Lavinson discussed the push to lower the corporate rate, as well as the challenges involved.

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Why left should seek a fiscal deal

November 8th, 2012

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This piece was originally featured on Reuters.

“I am looking forward to reaching out,” President Barack Obama said Tuesday night after he had won reelection, “and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together.”

The progressive community must understand this and put aside its rigidity to help him meet this goal. As Obama also said early Wednesday morning, “We’ve got more work to do.” Read the rest of this entry »

Mr. Krugman: Obama Should Just Say Yes

October 3rd, 2012

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This piece was originally posted on the Huffington Post.

Paul Krugman is one of America’s intellectual treasures, but he is stunningly off when it comes to the deficit. He argues that if re-elected, Obama should “just say no” to all efforts to seek a major budget deal. In so doing, he belittles Bowles, Simpson and others who warn about a looming and potentially crippling fiscal crisis. He’s not the only deficit denier, but Mr. Krugman is so respected by the left wing of the Democratic Party that his arguments could prove quite problematic.

His recent column opens with perhaps the most dangerous and short-sighted argument, namely that our historically low U.S. treasury rates prove that “we are not facing any kind of fiscal crisis.” But our rates are not at historic lows because of our chronic deficits, rather in spite of them. We are (in the eyes of those seeking to purchase the safest debt possible) the cleanest port-o-potty at the county fair thanks to the awful state of much of the rest of the world’s beleaguered economies. Read the rest of this entry »

Medicare’s Prescription Drug Benefit: A Foundation for Health Care Cost Savings

October 3rd, 2012

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With or without a fiscal cliff, health care costs are going to continue to skyrocket and eventually drown out the nation’s ability to protect our borders, fix our roads, inspect food, and educate our children. It will take a concerted effort by both parties to bring health care spending down from its current track, which is projected to consume half of all federal revenues by 2031.

A critical component to lowering health care costs is Medicare’s Part D prescription drug benefit. Enacted under Republican leadership, the drug benefit broke the mold for Medicare policy-making. Instead of setting prices for drugs—as Medicare does for physician and hospital services—Part D uses competition to keep prices in check. Seniors shop for coverage from a menu of plans and learn about prices and coverage from Medicare’s website, pamphlets, and 800 call-in centers. They are very satisfied with the program according to surveys conducted by the Healthcare Leadership Council. Read the rest of this entry »