Said Butch Cassidy to the Sundance Kid

As is my wont of late I was listening to a pod-cast at the gym this morning and to my astonishment I heard an economist opine some of the same things I’ve been saying about the budget and debt crises.  This was an economist who like myself avows that he seeks no political agenda but merely the truth. Almost seems too good to be true, does it not?  Included in the discussion are the Bush tax cuts, Social Security, and Medicare – all the things we’ve been blogging about for the last two years.

I couldn’t find a full transcript of the podcast, but perhaps that’s for the best. The Planet Money interviewers engage the economist in a lively and candid interview that is quite marvelous in its simplicity and lucidity. The economist in question is one Simon Johnson, co-author of a new book, “White House Burning” and previous author of economic best-sellers.

I think I can assure you, dear reader, that Dr. Johnson has no political axe to grind because if you listen to the lively interview (which starts about 15% into the podcast) you will see that his prescription for our economic troubles contains plenty of tough love for both sides of the aisle.  Anyone whose mind is still even slightly ajar on the economic issues of this election year should find much to ponder here.

The 21-minute podcast can be found here and the interview format makes it entertaining and almost painless. Enjoy.

About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Democratic.
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1 Response to Said Butch Cassidy to the Sundance Kid

  1. ansonburlingame says:

    OK, I listened, carefully,

    And believe he only goes half way, on the revenue side. And I acutally doubt that the revenue gains he speaks of are achievable, economically, much less politically. Note he said the removing the Bush tax cuts only on people earning above $250K, gets you about 1/4 to 1/5 of the total revenue increase IF all Bush tax cuts are rescinded.

    THEN he calls for increaing the tax on SS and Medicare. He did not say how much (above the nominal 7.5% of wages). He also spoke NOT about removing the cap on wages taxable for SS and Medicare.

    Then he goes after mortgage interest deductions, etc.

    The only thing I heard him say about the spending side was to increase, significantly I think, the retirement age eligibility for SS and Medicare, but again no numbers provided. On controling HC costs, he gave up and said it cannot be done, untelss the federal government gets out of HC payments, by and large.

    To me, Jim, the guy sounds about where we all started this debate about two years ago. He is going over plowed ground, infertile plowed ground, by and large.

    I say it again. We have problems in the range of $ Trillions and are trying to fix such problems with $ Billions. Now why do we have such huge “trillion size” problems? Simple, to me. It is the role of government that must be assessed and corrected, the federal government.

    The place to start is on OUR end of the spectrum, older Americans. We cannot afford to take care of ALL older age Americans. The line must be drawn at the level of ONLY those older age Americans that will fall below some threshold of comfort and security, to be determined.

    We cannot any longer afford EOL care such as practiced today for anyone on the government bill. Hospice not transplants for example, or hospice versus agonizing and long term chemotherapy as another example. Want more, then pay for it yourself. And of course such examples are merely a start. It will become more brutal along the way as we “wean” ourselves off of government support.

    Alternative to such difficult political decisions? Of course it is the “cliff” about whick the pod cast speaks, to a degree.



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