Addressing Our Problems Head-On
March 25, 2009
10:40 AM EST
10:40 AM EST
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In his press conference last night, the President explained why he is committed to the change in course on the nation’s priorities that his budget represents. In response to a question about the deficit, he expounded on the reasons for addressing so many decades-old problems head-on:
OBAMA: Of course I do, Ed, which is why we're doing everything we can to reduce that deficit. Look, if this were easy, then, you know, we would have already had it done, and the budget would have been voted on, and everybody could go home. This is hard.
And the reason it's hard is because we've accumulated a structural deficit that's going to take a long time, and we're not going to be able to do it next year or the year after or three years from now. What we have to do is bend the curve on these deficit projections. And the best way for us to do that is to reduce health care costs. That's not just my opinion. That's the opinion of almost every single person who has looked at our long-term fiscal situation.
Now, how do we -- how are we going to reduce health care costs? Because the problem is not just in government-run programs. The problem is in the private sector, as well. It's experienced by families. It's experienced by businesses.
And so what we've said is, look, let's invest in health information technologies. Let's invest in preventive care. Let's invest in mechanisms that look at who's doing a better job controlling costs while producing good quality outcomes in various states and let's reimburse on the basis of improved quality, as opposed to simply how many procedures you're doing. Let's do a whole host of things, some of which cost money on the front end, but offer the prospect of reducing costs on the back end.
Now, the alternative is to stand pat and to simply say, "We are just going to not invest in health care. We're not going to take on energy. We'll wait until the next time that gas gets to $4 a gallon. We will not improve our schools. And we'll allow China or India or other countries to lap our young people in terms of their performance. We will settle on lower growth rates, and we will continue to contract, both as an economy and our ability to -- to provide a better life for our kids."
That, I don't think, is the better option.