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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Austerity Is Not Enough

At The Daily Beast, Lloyd Green cautions Paul Ryan and other Republicans not to adopt an austerity agenda:
Like it or not, the Republicans need to look beyond the apex of the economic pyramid, and offer something tangible to woo working Americans. So, for the GOP, it’s time to start focusing on 2016 and regaining the White House. And it’s not as though there isn’t enough material out there for the Republicans to work with.

For starters, job growth has been decoupled from workforce participation. While the number of Americans working in the private sector has returned to its pre-Great Recession level, the labor force participation rate has fallen to just over 63 percent, back where it stood when Jimmy Carter was president. Meanwhile,Floyd Norris of the New York Times reports that “total compensation of employees slipped to a 65-year low” on Obama’s watch.

So if Ryan weren’t suffering from a green eye-shade syndrome, he might also want to focus on Alzheimer’s. These days, Alzheimer’s is shaping up to be a major epidemic, and is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. Alzheimer’s not only threatens lives, but it also endangers growth, and even budgets.

Against this backdrop, Jim Pinkerton, a former White House domestic policy aide to Presidents Reagan and Bush 41, calls for a “Cure Strategy.” That is, do to Alzheimer’s what we did to polio—make it go away.
Yes, a science-based qualitative approach to healthcare policy (cure the disease) makes a lot more sense than the rote quantitative approach (assume no change in the science and simply cut the costs). But unfortunately, Ryan is a number-cruncher to his core. Looking ahead, in 2015 he will rise to the Chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee.