Latest Biden gaffe illuminates spending absurdity

July 16, 2009

Personally, I like Joe Biden’s verbal gaffes.  They tend to throw public policy problems into stark relief.  Today, he’s reported to have uttered the following at an AARP town hall meeting on health care spending:

“Well, people when I say that look at me and say, ‘What are you talking about? You’re telling me we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt?’” Biden said. “The answer is yes, I’m telling you.”

Contrast with the testimony of Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf in front of the Senate Budget Committee today:

“In the [health care] legislation that has been reported, we do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount….on the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs.”

I understand the desire to achieve universal health care, especially when it comes to basic coverage.  Surely better preventive care and administrative efficiencies can achieve cost savings.  But, as Elmendorf argues, what’s being proposed won’t reduce costs.


In the meantime, this week total public debt outstanding increased $65 billion to $11.58 trillion.

(Click chart to enlarge in new window)


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Hey Rolfe, what’s your contact email now that you’ve moved? I have something you might be interested in.

Posted by joetauke | Report as abusive

“…we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt?”

This is not going to end well is it? :(

I reckon we’re going to see hyperdeflation in less then a year at this rate. Exponential stupidity colliding with the hard limits of the ability to service debt in the face of collapsing tax revenues and individual incomes.

Posted by VK | Report as abusive

Maybe he is just plagiarizing one of Robert Mugabe’s speeches.

Posted by Mikey | Report as abusive

In the NYT today news from Massachusetts where they are going to try to get away from fee-for-service…

“Instead, primary care physicians, specialists and hospitals would group themselves into networks that would be responsible for a patient’s well-being and would be compensated with a flat monthly or annual fee known as a global payment.”

It’s about time! They are doing this because they have found their universal health insurance program is continuing to cost more each year. Their program definitely bears watching.

Posted by CB | Report as abusive

Mr. Elmendorf also said, “…we do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending…” So, wouldn’t passage of the current Proposed House Plan be premature (or even one-sided) unless these so-called “fundamental changes” are legislatively required as a precondition for funding?

Posted by Gregman2 | Report as abusive