All right, all right, that is not completely fair. Yes, they dump all over Trump and the GOP-run Congress for their massive tax cut directed at the rich, as well as the hypocrisy of the Republicans in so smoothly switching from denouncing budget deficits during the Obama era to a “what? me worry?” attitude now with deficits set to soar in a period of near full employment. But, of course, the Monday gang at the Washington Post simply cannot avoid making a big deal about somehow “entitlements” are not being cut, although all kinds of other areas are going up, especially defense. But they just cannot get off this schtick.
I note that Dean Baker has just posted a whole bunch of comments on the newly proposed budget, as well as the recent tax cut, including one focusing on the WaPo gang and their annoying commentaries. However, I hope to add here some points he does not make. I am largely in agreement with his posts, with only minor disagreements not worth bothering with here.
Curiously, the usually more annoying WaPo editorial page editor, Fred Hiatt, was less annoying than the usual WaPo Monday economics commentator, Robert J. Samuelson. Of course, Hiatt mourned that in 2012 and 2013 Obama and Boehner could not agree on “tax hikes and entitlement cuts.” Quite aside from this annoying terminology of “entitlements,” there simply was never any good reason for cutting Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, at least not directly. As has been pointed out by many of us from well before then and up to the current time, especially Dean Baker, cuts could have been made, but the way to do it was to get the wildly high US medical care costs under control in general, which would show up in reductions of Medicare and Medicaid spending, without any loss in quality in care, assuming things were to be managed reasonably. But Hiatt and crew simply never recognize that. It is just how irresponsible all these politicians are or not just cut cut cutting those darned entitlements, although preferably in conjunction with that very unlikely to happen tax increase. As noted already, while Hiatt nods at dumping on Dems for supporting some spending increases (not noting that some of them such as disaster relief are really needed), he spends most of his fire dumping on Trump and the GOPsters for their deficit hypocrisy.
However, Samuelson puts on one of his classic performances, indeed worse than usual. Yes, he does plenty of bashing on the GOP tax cut, but he seems to justify the GOP-pushed increase in military spending (plus $80 billion, the largest increase of any item). According to RJS, “On defense, President Obama’s budgets reduced readiness, left the services too small and made it harder to counter new technological threats, notably cyberwarfare.” Really? The US has bases in 70 nations and special forces in at least 122. Do we need all that, not to mention that our military spending exceeds the sum of all that going on in the next five or so nations’ spending? I almost do not even know what more to say about this item.
But then when it comes to his specialty, demanding cuts in those darned entitlements, he falls on his face by making outright factual misstatements as near as I can tell. He starts out with a claim that “so-called entitlement programs…were largely untouched. They represent 70 percent of federal spending.” Oooops! I checked this number, which I have seen elsewhere previously, and it seems to be fake news, too high. Looking at 2018, “Pensions” are 25%, “Healthcare” is 28%. Offhand that 53% should include the big three “entitlements.” If one adds “Welfare” there is another 8%, which puts it up to 61%. But no matter how you slice it, RJS’s 70% number is simply too high, unless one plays some game of simply ignoring some other categories of spending. RJS really should be above this sort of thing. And that percentage is not going to rise in 2019 given the big jump in defense spending going on.
There is one more blunder on his part that I find seriously annoying, especially how much reporting of the spending implications and outcomes from ACA have has gone on. He declares, “Republicans congratulate themselves on new tax cuts; Democrats are always eager to increase social spending – witness the Affordable Care Act.” Ooooooops! yet again. I double checked. RJS seems to have forgotten that ACA was sold on actually saving money and it did. From 2012-2017, the net savings from ACA is estimated at $84 billion. That maybe not a huge number, but it is a saving that somehow RJS has to turn into an “increase social spending.” Really. Did he do his homework at all or has he gotten so deep into his standard lines that he is simply dispensing fake news now? I understand: fake news has simply taken over nearly everything in Washington, but one would hope that the Washington Post would try to avoid such outright factual errors.
Dare I ask? Could someone provide us the original WaPo discussion that will get us past their fire wall? I may regret it but I’m in need for some comic relief.
Try the link in the article, it is the Salt Lake City Tribune version of the same thing. Let me know if this works.
Angry Bear has a self described ‘library card’ for NYT and WAPO access I can hook up for Bears I believe.
Yes, we can do that for a “slight” fee! 🙂
I apologize I am not the person to get past their firewall. I get my WaPo delivered at the door daily.
Try ‘go to archive.is, in url line of browser, and do a search in the bottom “blue bar” to see if someone has already made an archive of the article you want to share…… may beat the pay fire wall.
I can comment on: “Obama’s budgets reduced readiness, left the services too small and made it harder to counter new technological threats, notably cyberwarfare.”
“Reduced readiness”: you buy systems that are not tested for durability and reliability and save money by not setting up organic repair systems. You rely on “for profit repairs” from the same inept guys who sold you the trashy systems in the first place. Besides who knows what system are “ready” for what? Without Clinton the chances of attacking Russia through Ukraine are nil.
Those are reasons that spending trillions for added operating tempo to try and give Syria to al Qaeda makes your equipment “not ready” for the fictions you bought them for.
Too small is corollary to unready. The stuff is so expensive USAF both 183 F-22’s with the funding projected for 750. As costs went up congress said live in the budget. Now F-35 has suffered similar only lesser reductions. If you cannot afford numbers…… Again inept plundering pentagon troughers, another $80B over two years will only make the inept more money.
New techno threats! See the inept above.
And toward cybersecurity, Verizon could do it faster cheaper and better than the pentagon cabal!
pgl, why would you want to read WaPost?
I wish everyone knew that
SOCIAL SECURITY (OASDI) HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE DEBT.
Samuelson has always been a liar. I assume the WaPo is just stupid… they have believed the lies without ever checking the facts. They don’t seem to even suspect there might be a reason to check the facts.
Social Security is paid for by the workers who expect to get the benefits. NONE of the money for SS comes out of the Budget.
Roosevelt designed it that way on purpose… so that “no damn politician can take Social Security away from them [the workers who paid for it].
The “Left” is not helping make this clear by “demanding” the rich pay “their fair share” (scrap the cap). The rich do pay their fair share.
Dishonesty and stupidity and greed and ignorance do not help solve real problems.