Ruth Marcus: Anyone Opposed to Catfood Commission Chairs' Report is Behaving 'Childishly'
The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus, who has already shown she'd rather bash unions than get her facts straight was at it again on during the panel segment on ABC's This Week. Marcus described anyone who is opposed to the report issued by the Catfood Commission's co-chairs as "behaving incredibly childishly" and thinks we should be listening to the adult in the room, Mr.-We-Need-Some-Shock-Therapy Kent Conrad.
Thankfully Paul Krugman was there for some push back but he was outnumbered by the wingnuts on the panel three to one.
AMANPOUR: The deficit commission, we had two members just -- just -- just earlier. You've written very, very strongly about a lot of the proposals, among other things, saying this proposal clearly represents a major transfer of income upward from the middle class to a small minority of wealthy Americans.
KRUGMAN: Yes. I think the most important thing to understand is that the commission did not do its job. It has a bunch of ideas for reducing the deficit, some good, some really bad, some of them not ideas about reducing the deficit at all.
But, you know, anybody, it's easy to come up with ideas. I can come up with ideas for reducing the deficit while padding my tummy and rubbing my head, you know?
AMANPOUR: What should they have done?
KRUGMAN: What they -- what they were supposed to do was produce something that was good enough to have an up-and-down vote, something that a lot of people could sign on to, and they did not do that.
In particular, now, leaving aside the distributional stuff -- which is awful -- the core of the deficit problem, everybody who's serious knows the core is health care costs, and you have to reduce health care costs, not reduce them, but reduce the rate of growth. The way you have to do that is by deciding what you're going to be willing to pay for.
They completely wimped out on that. They simply assumed they were going to reduce the rate of health care cost growth. And they said, how are we going to do that? By monitoring and taking additional measures as necessary.
So the report was completely empty on the only thing that really matters and then had a whole bunch of things which involved large tax cuts for the top bracket. What on Earth is that doing in there?
AMANPOUR: What on Earth, George?
WILL: Well, Paul is speaking about the commission in the past tense, as though it has just reported. If fact, 2 of 18 members have now given their ideas; the other 16 have yet to be heard from.
The most interesting thing they did propose, interesting, A, because it's somewhat radical and, B, because it's opaque as to what it means is a 21 percent limit on revenues, not on spending, but on revenues. And I don't know what a cap means.
One Congress can't bind the other, and I don't know how institutionally how that would work, but certainly raising the early retirement age to 64 is overdue. Raising the retirement age under Social Security to 69 by 2075 is dilatory, should be done next Thursday.
AMANPOUR: A goer at all? I mean, certainly, the liberals are screaming bloody murder over this.
MARCUS: Actually, both sides are screaming bloody murder. And like most people screaming bloody murder, I think they're behaving incredibly childishly...
AMANPOUR: Well, you've told the president to be professorial about this, didn't you?
MARCUS: Professorial and the grown-up...
AMANPOUR: Written about it, anyway.
MARCUS: ... and the grown-up in the room. I agree with what Senator Conrad said. The non-report, the recommendations from the co-chairs were a useful dose of shock therapy just to educate people about the incredible gulf that we have between the government that any reasonable person wants.
You could have a discussion about what size it should be and the revenue that we have to fund it going forward, and you need to understand the scope of the problem before you can agree on solutions.
Right now, 75 percent of people believe you could balance the budget without touching Medicare or Social Security; 75 percent of people believe that you can balance the budget without raising taxes. Well, you could, but it would be extraordinarily painful.
People need to get a little bit of reality therapy. There's going to be another dose coming on Wednesday when another group is going to submit their recommendations, very concrete recommendations about how to do it. That's the conversation we need to have before we start picking apart solutions.
KRUGMAN: If they were going to do reality therapy, they should have said, OK, look, Medicare is going to have to decide what it's going to pay for. And at least for starters, it's going to have to decide which medical procedures are not effective at all and should not be paid for at all. In other words, it should have endorsed the panel that was part of the health care reform.
If it's not even -- if the commission isn't even brave enough to take on the death panels people, then it's doing no good at all. It's not educating the public. It's not telling people about the kinds of choices that need to be made.
MARCUS: But they did talk about -- just -- just as a fact, they did talk about strengthening that commission, the famous IPAB...
MARCUS: ... and giving it more power to go after more aspects of the health care system, which -- because it's now rather constrained.
KRUGMAN: They made no headlines with that. And some friends of mine are calling this the commission -- the commission to put caps on lots of stuff. It's a lot of numerical caps without any explanation of how they're going to happen.