TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2023
Only The Shadow knows: We're so old that we can remember when this sort of thing seemed to matter.
In his new column for the New York Times, Paul Krugman discusses Nikki Haley's stance on Social Security. Here's what the headline says:
Nikki Haley Is Coming for Your Retirement
This isn't a favorable column about Candidate Haley. Along the way, Krugman discusses the best way to close Social Security's "funding gap."
(According to Krugman, that funding gap is real, but it isn't as large as you might think. It could be easily closed.)
We can recall when such discussions almost seemed to matter. Along the way, Krugman also says this:
KRUGMAN (11/28/23): It’s true that the budget office projects a much bigger rise in spending on Medicare and other major health programs. But much of this projected rise reflects the assumption that medical costs will rise much faster than economic growth, which has been true in the past but need not be true in the future. Indeed, since 2010, Medicare spending has been far less than expected. And there is every reason to believe that smart policies could further curb health care costs, given how much more America spends than other wealthy nations.
"Given how much more America spends" on health care? How much more is that?
As part of his decades of MVP work, Krugman first wrote about this topic long ago. This isn't his major topic today, but he offers a link to this recent set of figures:
Health consumption expenditures per capita, U.S. dollars, PPP adjusted, 2021 or nearest year
United States: $12,914
United Kingdom: $5,387
PPP adjusted? Don't even ask! (Instead, you can just click here.)
It's been a while since we presented figures for per capita health care spending. As you can see, the spending gap remains extremely large—and it remains unexplained.
Where's all that extra money going? Once again, don't ask!
Krugman first discussed this topic in a striking series of columns back in 2006. He stressed the fact that health care outcomes were largely the same, despite the massive difference in health care spending.
Those columns generated exactly zero discussion in our major news organs. For whatever reason, this is a topic which doesn't seem to generate interest within such upper-end orgs.
At any rate, we Americans spend more than twice as much per person as all but one of those comparable nations. Where's all that extra money going? Why do we spend so much more, per person, than other nations do?
We're so old that we can remember when presidential campaigns, and the years leading up to same, involved discussions of such topics—discussions which were generally bungled within the upper-end press corps.
Example: Back in 1995, was Speaker Gingrich proposing a Medicare cut? Or was he simply "reducing the rate at which the program would grow?"
As we discussed in some detail, that conundrum puzzled the press corps for several years. Long ago, Krugman once linked to our work on the topic, though we no longer have the link to Krugman's blog post.
Today, we talk about Donald J. Trump and his various trials, and we talk about little else. Where's all that extra money going?
Apparently, only The Shadow knows—and The Shadow doesn't care!