by James A. Bacon
So, we learn from Peter G. in the previous post that conservatives who oppose the willy-nilly expansion of Medicaid in Virginia are either preppies who dress like they just walked off the plantation after giving the darkies a good hard whipping or are hard-right cheapskates with a Calvinist bent. This is essentially the same message of a Washington Post article today, though without the inflammatory rhetoric.
Believe it or not, conservatives are not immune to the sufferings of the poor. Conservatives would like to see poor people enjoy the benefits of health care insurance. But unlike liberals, conservatives are concerned with results. The United States has fought a 60-year war on poverty, but we seem to be the only ones who noticed that poverty won. Liberals, for whom moral posturing and do-goodism appear to be ends in themselves, appear to have missed the fact that the expenditure of trillions of dollars has created a sub-culture of poverty that is even more deeply entrenched and more dependent upon government largess than ever. Of course, many liberals don’t have a problem with dependency — Americans who rely upon government spending are reliable voters for liberal politicians.
But conservatives, as I said, are interested in real-world results and we fret about unintended consequences. We worry what will happen if Virginia expands the number of people dependent upon the government, either through Medicaid or through federally funded health care exchanges. We worry what will happen to them when the federal government can no longer support its monstrous debt and can no longer fulfill its promises. Who will care for the wards and dependents of the leviathan state when federal finances collapse? How will the poor cope when the rug has been pulled out from under them? How much misery will ensue?
Liberals don’t worry about such scenarios because they don’t believe they will happen. To their mind, fears of a fiscal apocalypse are nothing but scare mongering by hard-hearted conservatives who want to dismantle the social safety net. All I can do is remind readers of a few facts. The national debt is $16.5 trillion a year and growing by close to $1 trillion a year. And that’s during a period of record-low interest rates. Should interest rates ever return to their long-term norms of 4% to 5%, interest on the national debt will balloon by some $600 billion a year as the debt rolls over — far more than we can ever cut spending or raise through taxes. If that happens, we will enter a vicious cycle from which we cannot recover.
The only way interest rates won’t rise is if economic growth remains tepid, creating little demand for credit and debt. If that happens, economic growth will fall below the long-term budget forecasts, which means that tax revenues will fall chronically short… and deficits will run higher than projected. And, oh, by the way, none of the long-term budget forecasts allow for the possibility of another recession over the next 10 years, which is patently absurd. Current budget forecasts, as worrisome as they are, are pure fantasy.
To Peter’s mind, the act of committing elementary mathematics constitutes a form of Calvinism. To my mind, the liberal inability to see past the day after tomorrow constitutes spend-thrift libertinism. I believe strongly that within our lifetimes, the moral bankruptcy of welfare state liberalism will be plain for all to see. The only question is whether liberals will be held to account for all the lives they destroyed.