What world are we living in? It’s a world in which we face three major challenges: responding to the merger of globalization and the information technology revolution, which is changing every job and workplace; dealing with our mounting debt and entitlement burdens, driven by steadily rising health care costs and unsustainable defined benefits; and, finally, developing energy sources that can grow the world economy without tipping it into disruptive climate change. (At one point last week, the Senate approved a $60.4 billion aid package to help New York and New Jersey recover from Hurricane Sandy. If fully implemented, that would mean we’d spend on one storm all the new tax revenue for next year that the House and Senate just agreed to in the fiscal-cliff negotiations.)
Emphasis mine, because is there anything worse than spending on such things? And “debt” by itself is defined as just terrible, regardless of what it’s for. In fact, the MOST HORRIFYING EXAMPLE OF SPENDING EVER is aid to New York and New Jersey, which is just SO MUCH MONEY. So much. It’s almost a WHOLE QUARTER of two wars we aren’t winning, the costs of which Tom Friedman could not give two shits about, because suck on this.
And why can’t we solve this horrible problem? Because Obama isn’t bold enough to boldly propose boldly slashing Social Security and Medicare, boldly:
When I heard Obama say, after the election, that this time he was going to take his plan to the country, and not make the mistake again of just negotiating with Congress, I thought, “Great, I can’t wait to hear what he says.” But all he took to the country was a plan for increasing taxes on “millionaires and billionaires.” There was nothing comprehensive, nothing bold, no great journey for America and no risks for him.
If there’s one thing that carries no risk in America, it’s attacking rich people. I mean, it’s not like they then turn around and spend squillions on trying to get somebody else elected in his place, amirite?
He took to the country a plan to curb rising health care costs by trying to get everybody some health insurance and for the first time regulate an entirely unregulated industry, but that didn’t have the words BOLD AND COMPREHENSIVE in glitter puffy stickers on the cover, so Friedman just assumed it didn’t count.
Maybe Obama has a strategy: First raise taxes on the wealthy, which gives him the credibility with his base to then make big spending cuts in the next round of negotiations. Could be. But raising taxes on the wealthy is easy. Now we’re at the hard part: comprehensive tax reform, entitlement cuts, radical cost-saving approaches to health care and new investments in our growth engines.
Yeah. It was so easy the Republicans almost detonated the whole country over it.
And now Obama has to do something really hard. He has to grit his teeth and kick old poor people. That takes major courage. Not like confronting powerful people with rooms full of gold in which they dive like Scrooge McDuck. A kindergartener could fuck those people up. Radical “cost-saving” takes real balls.
I swear I don’t know what Friedman’s freebasing these days but I’d like some of it.