Morning Joe | February 08, 2013
>>> okay. twitter is going wild this morning. i can't even look because it's so mean. joining us now from washington , washington bureau chief for "the new york times," david leonhard, the author of the new e-book,
"here's the deal: how washington can solve the deaf skpit spur growth." and in it, david writes, in part, "eventually the country will have to confront the deficit we have, rather than the deficit we imagine. the one we imagine is a deficit caused by waste, fraud, abuse, foreign aid , oil-industry subsidies and vague, out-of-control spending. the one we have is caused by the world's highest health costs by far the world's largest military, by far, a social security program built when most people died by age 70, and to pay for it all, the lowest tax rates in decades. the recent string of budget deadlines and crises may be manufactured. the problem is not." so david , well said.
>> thank you.
>> talk to me about manufactured budget crises because it does seem like it doesn't even get small deals, let alone big deals. it gets sort of mini-half deals.
>> that's right. i mean, the sequester, the debt ceiling, fiscal cliff, all these things are not so much real problems as they are manufactured partisan problems. but underneath them, you have this real problem which is basically the republicans won the debate on taxes, and the democrats have won the debate on the safety net . and as a result, that's sort of the deficit that we have. and the question is how can we solve it? and history suggests economic growth is the best way, but this deficit is also big enough in the long term that it's probably not going to be enough. and we need some combination of spending cuts and tax increases as well.
>> yeah, how do we make that happen, sam?
>> i was going to say, part of the problem is the tax revenue problem, which is that you don't have enough people making good incomes, paying good taxes, which is used to fund the social safety net that we value very highly. but it's also a health spending problem in that we spend a of ou money on health and a lot of that's end of life health as well. one of the curious things about the health care debate when we're through, there's a huge backlash against cutting iing medicare but also against this notion of rationing. if we had discussion about health care , rationing would be on the table. we do have to consider things that are too expensive to cover basically.
>> go ahead, david .
>> one of the things i try to argue, we're already rationed. we have a system not only with large numbers of uninsured people but without basic care other countries have. rationing is just making choices. we don't have any option to ration or not. it's how well we do it.
>> what you are essentially saying, we don't have so much a budget problem orificecal problem, we have a political problem and this is the manifestation of it. other than your organizements persuading people which would be a first, not a criticism of you, a reflection of reality, what is it we then do to make the politics address the real issues in serious ways? what do we do to avoid you having to have version two, three, and four of your book published over the next couple of years?
>> i think -- no, and that's right. i'm not running for office, right, so easy for me to say, guess what, you're getting too much benefit and paying too little taxes. that's a recipe for not getting elected. the thing to remember in a democracy is that we're not likely to solve it with some big bang grand bargain. even if there's a technical grand bargain which is unlikely. the way we solve things is two steps forward, one step back or sometimes one step forward , two steps back. we hope we have more forward than back. we see some small reasons for optimism recently. some slowdown in health spending . we do see some of these deals reducing the deficit. i think the real question now is can weigh reorient the government a little bit so it's a little bit less oriented towards spending that don't provide economic growth and medicare and social security and the military all have enormous advantages but it doesn't provide economic growth , more towards things that do.
>> you're talking a budget problem. i'm going to take it one step heyer. to me it's a human problem that we, today, are a nation where nobody wants to sacrifice anything. we are an entitled, bloated country. until that changes, until the mindset changes, politics can't even kick in.
>> i think that's right. there was a question early in obama's presidency when someone asked him -- it may have been chuck todd actually -- what would you say to americans? what kind of sacrifice would you ask of them? well, they've already sacrificed enough. that captures the notion that right now and for some time in this country sacrifice has not been a winning political argument . and i think that's problematic because there's a long history of sacrifice in this country, essentially trying to put off things until tomorrow in a way that makes life better tomorrow which is what you do to get economic growth . i agree with you. i think what we have to hope for there will eventually be a politician who can help people see the real value of that and that isn't vulnerable to politicians who come around saying, no, no, no, no.
>> we don't need to have this conversation.
>> buy it.
>> "here's the deal." thank you so much. thank you for coming on the show. still ahead, money can't buy everything. the u.s. is three times wealthier today than 40 years ago but are people healthier? columnist for the morning times adam davidson and leigh gallagher will be here with some