How You Can Tell Obama Is Winning

Oct 1 2012 @ 11:44am

Because Paul Krugman is suddenly alarmed by the prospect of a Simpson-Bowles-type Grand Bargain. He's afraid that, should Obama win, "all the Very Serious People will clamor for him to return to the pursuit of a Grand Bargain, built around S-B":

Simpson-Bowles is terrible. It mucks around with taxes, but is obsessed with lowering marginal rates despite a complete absence of evidence that this is important. It offers nothing on Medicare that isn’t already in the Affordable Care Act. And it raises the Social Security retirement age because life expectancy has risen — completely ignoring the fact that life expectancy has only gone up for the well-off and well-educated, while stagnating or even declining among the people who need the program most.

For me, its core virtues are the radicalism of its tax reform proposals – which, in my view, Obama should embrace in as Grand a Bargain as he can muster by January – and its serious cuts in defense, which might actually turn the Pentagon into a defense department rather than an instrument for neo-imperial global hegemony. But, while I don't dismiss the cost controls in the ACA, I see no long-term alternative than some tough decisions on rationing for end of life care, as Steve Rattner argued here. Specifically: we need that mandatory Medicare counseling on power of attorney for end-of-life decisions, and the IPAB's powers need to be beefed up.