There used to be a column in the old Readers Digest called “Laughter Is the Best Medicine.” It was about cheering people up, seeing the lighter side. But I’ve long maintained that laughter is also the best medicine in politics. The minute something becomes an object of ridicule, it’s in big trouble.
I began my day with a blog on Charles Krauthammer’s column on the repeal effort. Krauthammer quotes the Democrats saying that creating new entitlements and spending vastly more money will reduce the deficit. Ha ha ha.
Well, now Greg Mankiw, a blogging Harvard economics professor, is taking the same tact: “Give me $1 billion to cut the budget deficit,” Mankiw urges in a new blog post:
I have a plan to reduce the budget deficit. The essence of the plan is the federal government writing me a check for $1 billion. The plan will be financed by $3 billion of tax increases. According to my back-of-the envelope calculations, giving me that $1 billion will reduce the budget deficit by $2 billion.
Now, you may be tempted to say that giving me that $1 billion will not really reduce the budget deficit. Rather, you might say, it is the tax increases, which have nothing to do with my handout, that are reducing the budget deficit. But if you are tempted by that kind of sloppy thinking, you have not been following the debate over healthcare reform.
Healthcare reform, its advocates tell us, is fiscal reform. The healthcare reform bill passed last year increased government spending to cover the uninsured, but it also reduced the budget deficit by increasing various taxes as well. Because of this bill, the advocates say, the federal government is on a sounder fiscal footing. Repealing it, they say, would make the budget deficit worse.
So, by that logic, giving me $1 billion is fiscal reform as well. To be honest, I don’t really need the money. But if I can help promote long-term fiscal sustainability, I am ready to do my part.
We’re beginning to laugh at Obamacare.
And, as the old Readers Digest told us, laughter is the best medicine.