sincerity

Well this is encouraging. Dick Durbin is one of the “liberals” on the President’s Debt Commission, which is currently studying cuts to Social Security and Medicare as a way to reduce the deficit.

And he certainly has mastered the fine art of messaging to the Democratic base:

[Durbin] admonished “bleeding heart liberals” to be open to program reductions to restore fiscal balance.

Thanks, Dick. It is just so wonderful that the Democrats swept Congress and the White House in 2008. God knows what the Republicans would be saying about us.

While Durbin turns the hippie-kicking up to 11, Peter Orszag still nurtures his dream of cutting Medicare and Social Security in order to balance the budget and reduce the deficit. So here’s one for the eggheads and their pocket protectors — why don’t they expand Medicare and reduce the deficit?

As Jon Walker has noted, offering Medicare coverage to businesses would save almost a trillion dollars over the next decade, based on information in the CBO, the CMS and even the UnitedHealth Group-owned Lewin Group:

Medicare is roughly 15-30% cheaper than private insurance for providing the same level of coverage. Given that health care costs are roughly 16% of our GDP, and the tax exemption for employer-provided health insurance is the largest tax exemption in the system, really bringing down health care costs would dramatically reduce our deficit.

According to the Joint Committee On Taxation, the exemption for employer-provided health insurance cost the government $246.1 billion in 2007. For the four year time span, FY2009-FY2012, the exemption was projected to cost $1.228 trillion.

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[F]orcing all employers to buy insurance through a Medicare-for-all system and replacing the new health care exchanges with a Medicare buy-in would probably be projected by the CBO to reduce the deficit by close to $1 trillion over the next decade based on some simplified calculations. Improving Medicare cost effectiveness by allowing direct drug price negotiation and drug re-importation would further help reduce the federal deficit by billions more.

We’re in this budgetary quagmire not because of social safety net programs like Medicare and Social Security, but because none of the “fiscal hawks” has the stones to stand up to the Medical Industrial Complex and run them efficiently. And also because hedge fund managers like Pete Peterson don’t want to pay their taxes.

So before you start hacking away at “entitlement programs” and telling little old ladies to suck it up and chow down with kitty, Dick (may I call you Dick?) how about a CBO score on the money that would be saved by a Medicare buy-in for businesses? I’m sure all those much-vaunted “small businesses” everyone is always gassing on about (you know, the “engines of economic growth”) would be delighted to see their health care costs cut 15%-30%. Think of what a good jobs creation measure it would be in a time of high unemployment.

I know, I know. Consider it a gift from my “bleeding heart” to. . . well, whatever it is you’ve got instead. You can thank me later.

(h/t TL)