The Washington Post's David Broder had a predictably dour column about health care reform yesterday -- a paint-by-numbers job consisting of little more than a couple of quotes from interest groups that don't like government spending and a poll showing that people worry health care reform will add to the deficit. (Broder's summary of the poll alone took up 6 of his 16 paragraphs.)
If Broder ever was worth reading for his insights rather than his reporting, that time is long gone, as yesterday's column reminds us.
And, indeed, Broder's colleague Ezra Klein quickly exposed the flaws in the little bit of Broder's column that wasn't simply a regurgitation of poll results and interest-group quotes:
David Broder has a column today expressing skepticism that health-care reform will really cut the deficit. But he doesn't provide much evidence for the charge.
The specific budget gimmick mentioned in the column is that Reid has delayed the subsidies "from mid-2013 to January 2014 -- long after taxes and fees levied by the bill would have begun." But not that long. The excise tax, for instance, begins in 2013. More to the point, it's not clear what Broder's complaint is. Reid delayed the implementation of the subsidies in order to ensure the bill's deficit neutrality in the first 10 years, which is what Broder wants. Why attack him for it?
In other words, the revenue and the savings grow more quickly than the costs. Extend that line out further and, yes, federal spending on health care falls as a result of this bill. In other words, the bill satisfies Broder's conditions. But he doesn't come out and say that.
More broadly, I'm confused by the budget hawks who that take the line: "This bill needs to cut the deficit, and I don't believe Democrats will cut the deficit, but since the actual provisions of the bill unambiguously cut the deficit, then I guess Congress won't stick to it."
People who want to cut the deficit should support this bill, and support its implementation. The alternative is no bill that cuts the deficit, and thus no hope of cutting the deficit.
If anyone wants to offer a reason -- other than inertia -- why the Post's print edition carried Broder's column and not one by Klein, I'd love to hear it.