Free Markets, Free People

Ezra Klein: A larger welfare state might mean a smaller deficit

Honestly, that’s his premise.  You can read it here.  He bases his argument mostly in health care costs.  Obviously where he tries to go with it is toward a single payer system.  But he uses Germany as the model.  Anyone, does Germany have a single payer system?  No, it has a public health insurance program that covers 88% of the population.

Take Germany. They have a pretty big welfare state: pensions, health care, paid vacations, unemployment benefits equal to two-thirds of one’s income.

So that’s great and per Klein, who, like I said, wants you to believe by his vague general description, that Germany has a system like … Canada.

Don’t believe it?  Well it takes that sort of implication to make a statement like this:

To bring this across the Atlantic, you could argue that the United States’s debt burden is the product of an insufficiently large welfare state — at least with regard to health care. To see a stark illustration of that thesis, head to the Web site of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development and download their health-care statistics for Canada and the United States [emphasis mine].

Notice how apparently we transitioned seamlessly from a country with health insurance to a country with a single payer system without that being obvious?  In reality we’ve looked at the apple, now he plans on comparing it to the orange:

As recently as 1965, the cost of those two systems competed neck-and-neck. That year, Canada spent 5.9 percent of its GDP on health care. The United States spent 5.7 percent. But around that time, Canada was transitioning to its current single-payer system. Over the next four decades, the growth of health-care costs slowed in Canada while it accelerated in the United States. By 2009, Canada was spending 11 percent of its GDP on health care — and covering everyone. The United States was spending 17.4 percent of its GDP and leaving 45 million uninsured. In dollar terms, we’re spending $3,600 more per person, per year, than Canada.

Emphasis mine.  It’s a pretty ballsy attempt, I’ve got to say.  Here’s another question for those paying attention.  Can anyone tell me what began in 1965?  Anyone?  That’s right … Medicare.  Per Klein, we were actually spending less than Canada until the same year that Medicare and government intrusion into the health care market was made law.

Based on that extraordinarily flawed bit of reasoning which managed to factor out or ignore a major reason for the increase in US health care costs, Klein concludes:

If the United States had Canada’s health-care system, and Canada’s per capita health-care costs, we would have a much “larger” welfare state, but we wouldn’t have a deficit problem.

Really?  Seriously?  You really want to run with that one, Mr. Klein?

Perhaps a less rosy look at Canada might help temper that nonsense a bit. Here’s a Canadian economic analyst speaking about the Canadian healthcare system:

"There’s got to be some change to the status quo whether it happens in three years or 10 years," said Derek Burleton, senior economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank.

"We can’t continually see health spending growing above and beyond the growth rate in the economy because, at some point, it means crowding out of all the other government services.

"At some stage we’re going to hit a breaking point."

It means crowding out other government services or what? 

That’s right, deficits.

Well, except in Ezra Klein’s magic welfare state where one can happily spend whatever they want and there are no apparent consequences or … deficits.


Twitter: @McQandO

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28 Responses to Ezra Klein: A larger welfare state might mean a smaller deficit

  • “transitioned seamlessly”

    That’s pretty kind of you. I’d have called it a bait-and-switch so clumsy that you wouldn’t even catch a goldfish with it.

  • I’ll take the over on that one.

  • Wowzah….Klein is the KING UNDERWEAR GNOME…!!!

    How many non sequiturs, false comparisons, and broken logic chains CAN you cram in one terrible piece…???

  • OK, someone who loves her needs to get Sheila Jackson-Lee on some better meds….

    “We saw what happened when Iran took hostages in 1979. A president lost his re-election. The prestige of the United States was challenged.

    I am not going to be taken hostage again to extend the Bush tax cuts when every economist says that it’s absolutely absurd forever and points to the fact that no jobs are necessarily created by extending the Bush tax cuts, at least on the top one percent of Americans, and when the top one percent population polled have said that they have no problem with losing that ludicrous benefit forever and ever. And then, when everyone understands the question of mutual sacrifice, benefit and sacrifice, with all of our soldiers coming home we’re now going to talk about being held hostage to the Bush tax cuts forever.”

  • Too bad Mike Soja doesn’t come around here anymore. He’s an Ezra Klein specialist.

    My heart leaps with joy when I realize that an idiot like that has a top spot at the WaPo and shows up on cable talk segments.

  • I read Ezra earlier to see just what kind of absurdity he was up to now (to kind this dimwit gave a briefing on Capitol Hill).
    He’s sort of right, in a parallel universe kind of way. If you can find a government that decides that it won’t go into debt, you probably could have an even larger welfare state … it’s just that in this universe, debt always seems to run ahead the welfare state, much like a man with a lantern in front of a horseless carriage.

  • Ezra ought to just be happy that I am not in charge of things. It would be property rights, free markets, low taxes, and a lot of guys (like Ezra) hanging on meat hooks.

  • I forgot all about this idiot until you bring him up!

  • I’ve said it often enough that my own place. Klein is probably the most dishonest blogger on the web. This is merely another example. The guy’s going to do anything, say anything, to support the agenda. That doesn’t mean what he says has any relationship whatsoever with reality.

    And Rags ; perhaps the question should be asked, which one of the tax cuts that Jimmy Carter instituted put us into the situation of 21% inflation and a similar number in unemployment, as well as an energy crisis? The answer, of course, is there were no such cuts. Blaming our current situation “on the rich” is rather like a certain German chancellor blaming their worries on the Jews. Which giving the anti Semitic tilt of the oh WS crowd, should come as no surprise.

    • @Eric Florack Eric… Shhh…!!! Comments like that merely get people thinking. You KNOW we can’t have that.

      Like asking, OK, if we’re STILL cleaning up the Bush mess, how come we have states like TEXAS (one of the 57 in the Obamabanana Republic) doing MUCH better than the nation over-all?

      See? That kind of thing does nobody any good at all. Besides…RICH PEOPLE…!!! (Like “squirrel” in Up)

      • @Ragspierre I this was Bush’s mess alone, why is that most of Europe, who wanted no part of Bush’s other adventures, joined in to make the financial system almost collapse not just in the US but in Europe and all around the world.
        The point is that there is plenty of blame to go around, and not just in the US

        • @Neo_ Or Canada…sucked down with us…having rebounded long since.

          Was it Moose-atoba that had greater job growth than he whole US…?

    • @Eric Florack
      Is he dishonest, incredibly ignorant, or both? It’s hard to believe someone with a functioning brain can think some of the crap he writes. And people seem to mop him up. I think if you look good and can write the gospel fluidly, people eat you up. I comfort myself with the thought that humanity has always been at least this pathetic.

      • @grimshaw There’s always true believers out there. And that’s part of the problem that most of us face in terms of reclaiming America. You see, one of the hardest things that anyone could ever admit is that the basis of what passes for thought in their lives for however many years or decades , has been wrong. Even in the face of the massive disaster that is the left these last 60 years so years, and particularly the last four, the true believer will still cough up excuses and equivocations to support the agenda.

  • I am a Canadian and I enjoyed (and enjoy) watching the healthcare debate unfold in the US.

    Although I agree with the comments about the dishonesty of Ezra Klein, I think the difference between what the US and Canada spends on healthcare deserves more thoughtful analysis (17.4% vs 11%).

    Of course a whole host of factors account for the difference, and some differences such as demographics and geography are unique to each country. In my view, two broad areas probably account for a sigificant portion of the difference: Drug and legal costs.

    Its widely known that drug companies charge more for their drugs in the US than in Canada. This is why they do not allow reimportation. Are the costs of lower drug prices through tighter regulation worth forgoing cutting edge drug treatments?

    The US legal system is far more likely to award punitive damages to plaintiffs than the Canadian legal system. I don’t believe John Edwards would have made millions suing Canadian doctors and hospitals. Should the rights of victims to sue be limited by law to keep costs down?

    In Canada, I think its clear the answer to these questions has generally fallen on the side of controlling costs for the “greater good”. I hate that term, but there it is.