Weekend Editorial Roundup
Here are the highlights from this weekend’s editorials on fiscal and budget policy:
Taking off on Ben Bernanke's testimony before Congress last week, The Boston Globe argued that action, or at least a plan for action, on our country's fiscal problems was needed if we were to head off trouble in the financial markets down the road. If Congress failed to do so, they said, it would mean higher interest rates, as the markets would doubt our ability to act to reduce the deficit. Thus, they argued that deficit reduction could be very economically beneficial in the medium-term.
The Seattle Times, also noting Ben Bernanke's testimony, stated that Americans needed to re-adjust their expectations in order to encourage plans to solve our fiscal imbalances at both the state and federal levels. They first argued that state employees needed to adjust their expectations on state pension systems (we wrote on this last week) in order to solve state fiscal problems. Then, they noted that the historically high Federal spending and recent historically low revenues that have been brought on by the recession can't continue well into the future, and that the American people need to demand a return to fiscal sanity.
The Los Angeles Times criticized Senate Republicans for demanding that unemployment insurance extensions be paid for, saying that our fiscal problems are too big to be solved by "dickering over emergency spending programs designed to spur the flagging economy." To tackle our bigger long-term problems, they said, much more political courage is needed. They argued for changes to Social Security and changes to the tax code along the lines of the Tax Reform Act of 1986.
The Chicago Sun-Times called for a change in the formula that determines Medicare reimbursement rates and rate growth. They argued that the current growth rate, if Congress allowed it to actually happen (which it doesn't), would make it more difficult for doctors to continue treating Medicare patients; to address this, they wanted a permanent patch that would not cut Medicare reimbursement rates. The Sun-Times then argued for reforming the reimbursement system itself by replacing the fee-for-service system for one that rewards quality of care.