Written by John Goodman
As alert readers will know by now, President Obama has appointed a commission on the federal debt, mainly focused on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. To signal his seriousness about this venture, the President has gone so far as to put the newly passed health reform bill on the negotiating table - even though the ink on the new law is barely dry.
Just to get everyone's thinking jump-started, let me propose four bold ideas:
If these ideas do not immediately strike you as appealing, you need to know they are not really my ideas. The bullet points above describe the results of the 1983 Greenspan Commission - a bipartisan effort to "save" Social Security. At least inside Washington, D.C., and in the mainstream media, this effort is universally regarded as a stellar example of how politicians should solve problems. Many hope the commission on the federal debt will follow the Greenspan commission example.
More compassionate people, like yours truly, hope they do not succeed.
Behind the Green Door
Let's briefly review what official Washington considers real reform. Because of the Greenspan Commission recommendations:
Here's the bottom line: Efforts to patch up federal Ponzi schemes are not real reform. Their only purpose is to help a structurally flawed systems limp along - to put off the inevitable day of reckoning. In the meantime, the patchwork changes are almost always regressive - imposing the bulk of the cost on those least able to bear it.
John C. Goodman is president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis. The Wall Street Journal and the National Journal, among other publications, have called him the "Father of Health Savings Accounts," and the Media Research Center credits him, along with former Sen. Phil Gramm and columnist Bill Kristol with playing the pivotal role in the defeat of the Clinton Administration's plan to overhaul the U.S. health care system. He is also the Kellye Wright Fellow in health care. The mission of the Wright Fellowship is to promote a more patient-centered, consumer-driven health care system.
Dr. Goodman's health policy blog is the only right-of-center health care blog on the Internet. It is the only place where pro-free enterprise, private sector solutions to health care problems are routinely examined and debated by top health policy experts throughout the country-conservative, moderate and liberal.