Monday, June 13, 2011

Focus on jobs, not deficits, Mr. President!

E.J. Dionne on the political gridlock over the economy and where the President needs to take the "national conversation":
Republicans have no interest in moving the nation’s debate toward investments in job creation because they gain twice over from keeping Washington mired in discussions on the deficit. It’s a brute fact that Republicans benefit if the economy stays sluggish. And despite their role in ballooning the deficit during the Bush years, they will always outbid Democrats on spending cuts.

So is there any way out for those looking to Washington? The recent disappointing jobs numbers have at least had the salutary effect of reminding Democrats that they cannot agree to anything that further slows the recovery. “The first principle has to be ‘do no harm,’ ” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, a key House Democratic negotiator in the deficit talks. “There is a danger of making things worse if you adopt very deep cuts in the short term.”...

But there is another player in all this. The broad feeling among congressional Democrats — a sentiment that moves toward impatience when it’s expressed off the record — is that President Obama needs to engineer a turn in the national conversation. Brown, for example, strongly defends Obama’s auto rescue and is happy the president is talking more about manufacturing lately. Yet he adds: “The president has got to get this discussion more on jobs and less on the budget.”

Controlling health care costs: The Democrats have a plan and Paul Ryan, GOP Budget Czar, doesn't

Ezra Klein at WaPo's "Wonkbook," on controlling health care costs:

(T)he reality is that Democrats have a plan and Ryan doesn’t. But the perception, at this point, is just the opposite.

At the heart of Ryan’s budget are policies tying the federal government’s contribution to Medicare and Medicaid to the rate of inflation — which is far, far slower than costs in the health-care sector typically grow. He achieves those caps through cost shifting. For Medicaid, the states have to figure out how to save the money, and for Medicare, seniors will now be purchasing their own insurance plans and, in their new role as consumers, have to figure out how to save the money. It won’t work, and because it won’t work, Ryan’s savings will not materialize.