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Balancing the Budget is a Progressive Priority (SpringerBriefs in Political Science) 2012th Edition
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- France, another Western industrial and military power whose budget deficit and debt have become unsustainable, is about to elect a man who offers more of the same and refuses to talk about balancing the budget as president,
- Students have been demonstrating and protesting a paltry $1625-over-five-years tuition hike for almost 12 weeks in Quebec, another highly indebted, deficit-running Western state, and
- Many Western states (e.g., several EU countries) are heading toward bankruptcy.
In this book, Don Taylor lays out a clear plan to address our current fiscal problems. Given the author's expertise on health policy, and given the importance of health-care spending in the US, the bulk of the book is dedicated to the options available to policy makers who are serious about curbing health-care spending.
But health care spending is not the only topic the book discusses. The book provides a good historical account of how Americans painted themselves into a fiscal corner. The book also addresses Social Security and military spending as well as a potential reform of the tax code.
Taylor writes in a clear, easily accessible, and engaging way. For me, the most important lesson of the book is that if you want to balance the budget, you have no choice but to accept cuts in either health care spending, defense spending, or both. We can no longer have our cake and eat it too, and Taylor is as brutally honest as one can be when it comes to the hard choices ahead.Read more ›
His approach, while leaning left ("progressive"), is also bipartisan in tone and he continually reminds the reader that his positions are starting points and any negotiation requires greater compromise. His idealized safety net system is one that has a well-circumscribed fiscal floor and ceiling that cares for our neediest. Everything is up for negotiation within the boundaries of reason and sound policy. Market based approaches, along with revenue cuts, increases and redistribution, as well as program pruning are all there.
He speaks in a conversational tone and offers an accessible primer for readers new to the nuance of policy and politics--the interface at which we move beyond chatter and actually accomplish something. His ideas on reforming Medicaid--a three-headed hydra given the different population of folks it has gradually ensnared--are very interesting and worthy of careful consideration. They are also practical and eminently doable--if the will is there.
Absent however, are the operational elements of his plan, particularly the cost and coverage gains his proposal would generate--as compared to other ideas floating in the policy sphere. However, I don't believe his text was meant to conquer that beast. His intention was to generate ideas and create a starting point--not to solve systems ills in one fell swoop, but to take that first step.
I recommend the book highly. It was a solid read and serves as a nice compendium to his blog site and always enjoyable commentary ([...]).
The text is also current and my hope is he will continue to update and modify his work as the reform landscape evolves.