NY Times columnist and Nobel prize-winning economist Krugman spoke at a synagogue in Washington D.C. recently. In the question-and-answer period, he responded to a question about the national debt and whether or not there will be a moment when it becomes too big. He said that although there is no immediate cause for alarm, it will eventually become a problem maybe in the next 15 or 20 years because we have an aging population, and health care costs are rising. The programs that are meant to pay for people’s health care will have to be funded by additional revenue, such as higher taxes on the middle class. (He’s referring to the unfunded liabilities that are likely to be nearly $100 trillion.) “Something’s going to have to give,” he said.
And in a rare glimpse of candor, Krugman appealed to a more “progressive” way of keeping health care costs down:
“We won’t be able to pay for the kind of government the society will want without some increase in taxes on the middle class, maybe a value added tax. And we’re also going to have to make decisions about health care, not pay for health care that has no demonstrated medical benefits. So the snarky version, which I shouldn’t even say because it will get me in trouble, is death panels and sales taxes is how we do this.”
First of all, what is this “kind of government the society will want?” One where the government “provides” everything for us from cradle to grave? One that takes watchful care of us by documenting our every move? One that promises to give us free health care, education, job security, housing, welfare? He’s right that we won’t be able to afford that. We already can’t afford it. But, I don’t want that kind of society. Obama supporters want it, and they want it at the expense of the rest of us.