Labels Are Everywhere But Mean Little
It is particularly quiet in Washington these days. Most Congressional members are in their home districts wooing their constituents before the November election. The stakes for this election are high for Republicans because unbelievably the GOP has a very good chance of getting control of both houses. Their strategy is “say nothing now” or “don’t break into jail”. Hmmm.
In individual local elections, however, each candidate must differentiate themselves so that voters can choose. In some places, “I’m conservative” is enough. For others, “I’m fiscally conservative but moderate on social issues” is more daring. And of course there are one issue candidates who bet their chances on immigration, abortion, or lower taxes, for example.
Labels… they are the short hand of the political world.
Little has changed from the last election (2014) with respect to labels and real problems. The Federal budget is still unbalanced (although at a much lower level) and the underlying problem of reconciling tax revenues with Federal spending is still hopelessly deadlocked.
Political rhetoric continues to speak past the underlying spending causes (Defense, Medicare, Medicaid) and the tax revenue generation necessary to afford these programs.“Conservative”, “Fiscally conservative and social issue moderate”, or labels such as “progressive”, “liberal, or “economic growth” proponents do not predict how to resolve this imbalance. Hmmm.
The “defense budget ($600 billion)” presents an open ended spending opportunity and begs the question of what global role the US should play, and whether that role should be proactive or reactive. Given a proactive or reactive choice, the cost can be determined and appropriate taxes enacted.
Medicare and Medicaid budgets combine for about $800 billion in expenditures which are offset by $300 billion in direct tax support. These health related expenditures contribute about $500 billion to the deficit. Solve this imbalance and the deficit practically disappears.
In theory, one might think that a “conservative” ought to favor more direct taxes (revenue that could only be spent of these two programs. Surprisingly, “conservatives” tend to want to cut these benefits instead of paying for them. The fiscally conservative, socially moderate really gets compromised. What other spending could be cut?
Consequently, these politicians usually end up, along with progressives and liberals, desiring to “grow” the economy and generate more tax revenue without raising taxes. Hmmm.
With an aging population and national medical spending which is 2x the rest of the modern industrial world, Medicare and Medicaid cost excesses are not going to go away. Any serious politician knows that.
Conservatives, fiscal conservatives/socially moderates, and Progressives/liberals ought drop their labels and distracting rhetoric. Focus needs to be placed upon fundamental healthcare costs and putting in place tax policies which will cover the costs of Medicare and Medicaid generated by future recipients.
If you hear “repeal Obamacare”, you will be hearing a “dog whistle” for cutting benefits for those who can least afford the healthcare cuts.
The path, regardless of party, for balancing the budget, drives directly through US healthcare delivery. If I hear any candidate with this message, I will pay attention.