Just one bit more. I said : "[T]he revenue that will be sacrificed because of those tax cuts is not a minor concern. On the contrary, that revenue would have been more than enough to "top up" Social Security and Medicare, allowing them to operate without benefit cuts for the next 75 years."
Here's what Bill Gale said : "These prospective revenue losses [from the Bush tax cuts] are huge. They are more than three times as large as the 75-year actuarial deficit in social security, expressed as a share of GDP. They exceed the 75-year actuarial deficit in the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds... These facts imply that the aggressive tax-cutting agenda that the Administration has pursued the last few years deserves equal billing with Social Security and Medicare as "the real fiscal danger." "
We are saying the same thing. The only issue one could raise is Medicare Part B. But that has always been funded out of general revenue, and is not counted against the trust fund. When people talk about the financial crisis facing "Medicare", they are talking about the trust fund, i.e., Medicare part A.
Now it's true that part B represents a drain on the general budget, as does Medicaid. So? Neither Gale nor I was suggesting that everything would be hunky-dory if we didn't have the Bush tax cuts. Our point was and is that the tax cuts are big bucks, comparable to other stuff that tax-cut advocates insist is much more important.
Oh, and are people still using the line that Social Security surpluses don't count, but SS deficits do? I thought I dealt with that 2 years ago.
Bottom line: anyone who accused me of dishonesty on this subject owes me an abject apology. Hey, we can always fantasize.
Update: I see that I will nonetheless be berated for immense dishonesty because I didn't say "part A". Who else commits this sin? Well, Bill Gale: look at the quote above. "These facts imply that the aggressive tax-cutting agenda that the Administration has pursued the last few years deserves equal billing with Social Security and Medicare as the real fiscal danger." Hmm, nothing about part A there. And my original column was, of course, based directly on the CBPP posting , which has the title "Cost of Administration Tax Cuts Exceeds the Combined Long-term Deficits Faced by Social Security and Medicare"
Dishonesty, dishonesty everywhere.
Now I know what will happen: because Gale does mention "trust fund" somewhere, and CBPP later says "hospital insurance", people will say there's a big difference. There is, of course, no end to this.
Originally published on the Official Paul Krugman Site, 8.9.03