Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2nd Term Priorities

Obama's prioritization
In his 2nd-term administration
Should be making some dents
In the rising expense
Of medicine and education.

This priority shouldn't give pause
To government skeptics because
There's much to be gained
By undoing the pain
From ongoing federal laws.

President Barack Obama kicked off his second inauguration yesterday with a rousing speech of liberal policy prescriptions that he intends to pursue in his new term.  Underlying much of the rhetoric was the goal of using the social fabric and safety net to support and strengthen the American middle class.  Among the many factors that have led to the hollowing-out of the middle are the rapidly rising costs of education and healthcare.  It is education that is increasingly necessary to enter the world of steady, well-paid work, while affordable healthcare would prevent much of the undoing of employer-provided benefits that we have seen in the last generation, as well as the great number of personal bankruptcies.

To those who ask: what could the federal government possibly do to arrest these cost increases, I would say: what is it currently doing to contribute to them?  Two examples come to mind.  In education, the federal government contributes to the price spiral by providing a seemingly limitless supply of student loan funding for it.  A more discriminating, less misguidedly generous posture might be in order.  In medicine, the Medicare and Medicaid programs are the biggest contributors to the "fee for service" model that is one of the roots of healthcare inflation identified by the President.  These are just two thoughts off the top of my head; I'm sure that thoughtful policymakers could find more.

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