E21, the new think thank founded by Bill Kristol and Keith Hennessy, has an editorial today on the Democrats’ “Jobs Bill” that is almost too full of content to excerpt. But here is an excerpt anyway:
First, as with the large stimulus enacted in early 2009, much of the spending in this bill has nothing to do with facilitating near-term economic growth, and everything to do with bypassing long-term budget restrictions. Of the current bill’s more than $25 billion for “infrastructure incentives”, nearly 90% wouldn’t be spent until 2013 or later. If a project in 2019 is worthy of federal investment, it should be prioritized ahead of other federal spending at that time. Today’s recession doesn’t justify deficit-spending a decade away.
Similarly, the bill’s deficit-financed $22 billion payoff to Medicare physicians is clearly not being done for the purpose of economic stimulus. It is, instead, simply an artifact of previous misleading claims that health care reform would save money – claims that rested upon the assumption of an immediate 21% cut in payments per physician service. Those arguments of deficit reduction couldn’t be made if physician payments were increased in the health care bill itself, so provisions to do so have been moved into this one.
It is ironic – at the very least – to assert that these higher physician payments must now be financed with deficits, given that they have been moved into this legislation only because of claims that health care reform would not add to the deficit. Surely, the persistent claims of the fiscal prudence of health care reform should weigh against deficit-financing of higher physician payments rather than argue for it.
Bottom line: it’s $126 billion of new spending that flies in the face of the Democrats’ own PAYGO rules, intended to fix problems that Democrats’ past bills have created. Read the whole thing.
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