Posted by Brian Moore under budget
Whichever presidents/senators/congresspersons/bureaucrats were responsible for this site, uh… good job. I really mean it! Via Freakonomics.
Some fun things I found in a few minutes of wandering around:
- Lots of money spent on prisons
- KBR is making a lot of money during the years of 2003-2008. Gee, I wonder why.
- I wish I could make this one per-capita
- Wow, that is a steep line: (Total Contracts Spending in Billions)
Well, at least we aren’t planning any new massive expenditures in the coming years. Oh, right.
Tyler Cowen believes that the government will use a consumption tax to make up for social security and Medicare shortfalls:
Today’s report is this:
“The financial outlook for Medicare and Social Security has significantly worsened, as the bad economy and mounting job losses have pushed both programs years closer to insolvency, according to a grim report issued Tuesday by the Obama administration.”
Maybe you once argued that “Social Security is fine,” but dollars are fungible and the budget must be judged as a whole. The consumption tax is coming, I am sorry to say.
While I think he’s definitely right that taxes will increase, I think they will not increase as much as is actually necessary to cover these programs. This is because I think politicians will take what they perceive to be the easier way out — a combination of excluding high-cost individuals from eligibility for healthcare as well as laws that seek to prevent unhealthy actions.
As an example, take many of the nanny-state laws we have now: seatbelts, bicycle helmets, banning of fatty foods. The rationale for limiting behavior that only harms oneself is that we all bear the burden of your injuries — and if we increase the scope of our current national healthcare programs, this will only enhance these arguments. An alternative choice the government could have made would’ve been: “Well, we don’t want to restrict the freedoms of our citizens to choose to not wear seatbelts, so instead we’ll just increase taxes to pay for the medical care they will inevitably require” — which is basically the decision that Cowen is describing. I can’t think of any time this actually happened. The government always chose the path of punishing or restricting the actions of ”bad-decision-makers” instead of socializing the costs to the “good” people.
So my guess is that as national healthcare costs rise to unsustainable amounts, the government will exclude high cost (and assuredly politically powerless) individuals from coverage (drug users would be the logical start) as well as outlaw high cost activities (not exercising, eating anything listed at thisiswhyyourefat.com). Eventually these two policies will have a certain amount of synergy — if you’re convicted of any high-cost-prevention laws, you get booted from the healthcare system.