1:47 PM, Jul 30, 2014 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
As I've made pretty clear, I am not a fan of the "explanatory journalism" trend that purports to take an empirical approach to explaining complex issues. Its chief practitioners are a bunch of young, terribly biased journalists who tend to treat politics and policy as some sort of game, even as they broadcast their ignorance. Anyway, if you want a concise example of why explanatory journalism is bad—so pure and crystalline it could have been produced by Walter White—let me direct you to this Vox.com piece on Medicare.
Right off the bat, the headline is not encouraging: "Medicare isn't going bankrupt. This chart proves it." Sure enough, Vox has produced a chart showing that for the last 40 years, the Medicare Trustees report has projected the date of Medicare's insolvency and those insolvency dates keep getting pushed back. The conclusion drawn from a narrow and silly set of data points is that "hand-wringing [over Medicare's fiscal predicament] is pretty much unnecessary" because Congress will take care of the problem:
What you'll see here is that this report has predicted, many times in the past, that the Medicare Trust Fund would run out of money. But its never actually happened: each time the projected insolvency date gets close, there's typically a pattern where Congress steps in and passes some type of policy to make trust fund dollars stretch at least a decade longer.
This blase attitude about very real financial problems is one of the defining characteristics of welfare state fan fiction. Read that again: "There's typically a pattern where Congress steps in and passes some type of policy..." Some type of policy? Doesn't it matter what specific policies will be employed to keep Medicare solvent? I mean, we could just double the payroll tax. It might have terrible consequences for working families, but if it keeps Medicare solvent for the rest of the century, problem solved, right?
Nowhere in the piece does author Sarah Kliff mention that every year the same Medicare Trustees report notes that Medicare's unfunded liabilities grow astronomically even as the even as the projected insolvency dates are put off. So whipping up "policies" to "stretch" the solvency date instead of doing meaningful entitlement reform is allowing the problem to get much worse. Currently, the unfunded liabilities for Medicare are a staggering $43 trillion. That's $7 trillion more than the trustees report said four years ago.
But it's actually much worse than that. The Medicare Trustees report bases its projections on current law, and the law is currently... Obamacare. That's "some type of policy," all right. In 2010, which is coincidentally the year that Obamacare was passed, the Office of the Actuary at CMS started producing an "alternative scenario" for Medicare predictions not based on current law but on the projected outcome they thought was most likely. At Forbes, Chris Conover notes that Medicare Part A is actually projected to grow at a rate two and a half times as fast under this scenario as it does under the rosy Obamacare-influenced projections.
8:41 AM, May 19, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
More signs that the dynamism that once characterized the American economy is waning:
7:35 AM, May 12, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Timothy Geithner, the former secretary of the Treasury Department, says the White House wanted him to lie in scheduled appearances on the Sunday TV talk shows. As Geithner writes in his new memoir:
9:02 AM, May 5, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
This is not a good time to be young in America, and soon it will be less so. The generation that elected President Obama will see the price of that college education which was supposed to open so many doors go up.
11:01 AM, Mar 26, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee has put together this chart showing that payments on the interest of federal debt will "dwarf virtually every federal expense" in 2024:
11:30 AM, Mar 4, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama unveils his budget today. And the numbers aren't likely to satisfy fiscal conservatives and budget hawks, who might have been hoping for a budget that decreases spending and lowers the debt.
According to analysis by the Senate Budget Committee Republican staff, working for Ranking Member Jeff Sessions of Alabama, over the next decade President Obama's proposed budget increases spending by 63 percent and increases debt by $8.3 trillion.
Here are a couple charts from the minority side of the Senate Budget Committee showing the numbers:
10:01 AM, Feb 11, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
I understand House Speaker John Boehner has just announced to his conference that he intends to bring the floor of the House a clean debt limit increase. Conservative members of the conference had argued for this course. Conservatives will vote against "Obama's debt increase," but expect it to pass with mostly Democratic votes, and some Republicans. This should take the prospect of government default or shutdown off the table, and with it one of the few Democratic talking points that might help save them this year.
8:05 AM, Jan 21, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Beginning at 8:30 a.m., a live video stream of an event co-hosted by the Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) and The Weekly Standard: America's Biggest Threat: The Consequences of Debt, featuring Admiral Mike Mullen
, 17th chairman, Joint Chief of Staff, Bill Kristol, and Pete Hegseth.
Here's more on the event:
6:14 AM, Oct 17, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama signed the "deal" to re-open Congress and increase the debt limit, according to the White House. The press secretary sent this out late last night:
8:29 AM, Oct 9, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee has put together this chart to show that U.S. has added two times more debt than economic output in the last two years:
12:00 AM, Oct 5, 2013 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Two stories were prominently featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal a few days ago. America either is, or in a few months will be, the world’s largest producer of energy, “a new era of opportunities,” says Adam Sieminski, head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration. And feuding politicians have temporarily shut down a part of the government that accounts for about 10-12 percent of federal spending. Guess which is more important to the U.S. economy in the long run.
8:28 AM, Oct 4, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Although the government shutdown continues, it appears President Barack Obama and the White House are not getting any closer to negotiating with Republicans. A quotation from an unnamed senior administration official in today's Wall Street Journal explains why.
Hosted by Michael Graham.2:15 PM, Sep 27, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with executive editor Fred Barnes on the unwillingness by President Obama to lead on the budget, debt, and the continuing resolution.
4:07 PM, Sep 26, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The government will be tapped out on Oct 17, according to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. Unless, that is, Congress takes: