The relative price tag of change

THE RELATIVE PRICE TAG OF CHANGE…. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), who’s been pushing aggressively for a spending freeze (despite being a model “deficit peacock“), appeared on MSNBC to tout the new administration proposal.

As part of his endorsement of the plan, Bayh also said the White House took the wrong tack on health care reform: “[G]oing with the large bill in the middle of the worst recession since the 1930s and a major new expenditure at a time we were running a $30 trillion deficit just didn’t resonate real well.”

Igor Volsky noted how misguided this analysis really is.

Bayh is wrong to suggest that health care reform is antithetical to reducing the nation’s $1.4 trillion deficit. After all, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) the Senate health care bill would reduce the deficit by $132 billion over 10 years (or up to $409 billion over 10 years according to a Commonwealth study) and lower Medicare spending per beneficiary from 8% growth rate to 6% growth rate. […]

Health care reform would complement the administration’s new focus on deficit reduction by slowing the fastest growing part of the deficit…. As he told Congress during his address in February, “Put simply, our health care problem is our deficit problem. Nothing else even comes close. Nothing else.”

In fact, one of the great ironies of the current political debate is that much of President Obama’s domestic agenda — all the talk about spending and deficits notwithstanding — saves the country money. The biggest elements of the to-do list just aren’t expensive (as compared to, say, huge tax cuts, Medicare expansion, and two foreign wars).

Health care reform would cut spending and reduce the deficit. The cap-and-trade proposal not only combats global warming and helps create new jobs in a burgeoning sector, it also lowers the deficit. The student-loan overhaul saves money. Cleaning up Wall Street doesn’t cost much at all.

Lawmakers are feeling panicky and are desperate to prove how fiscally responsible they are. But in reality, this White House, unlike the last one, isn’t asking Congress to be reckless with the public’s money — it’s asking for key policy breakthroughs that put the nation on stronger financial footing.