Congratulations! The cost of your health insurance is increasing. What? You don’t think that’s a reason for celebration? Good, you’re avoiding a mistake that’s far too common among economic analysts, especially Republicans. Academic studies and news media regularly report that in recent decades the middle class has been stagnating economically. Conservative and libertarian analysts often downplay these stories by saying that while wages for people in the middle of the economic spectrum may look flat, their total compensation has been rising steadily.
Some things about 2013 are easy to predict. We know that taxes are going to rise, and so will the federal debt. We know that there will be more guns in circulation at the end of the year than at the beginning. We know that Donald Trump will get attention for saying something boorish.
W hile the Romney and Obama camps have made increasingly bitter accusations about each other’s plans for Medicare, a bipartisan consensus on entitlements has emerged in the past few years. Too bad that consensus is wrong.
Mitt Romney’s running mate is going to rank very low on the list of what’s on voters’ minds in November. Political journalists are obsessing about whom he’ll pick anyway, because it is one of the biggest remaining unknowns about the race. Even better, it creates opportunities for speculation. The speculators place high value on excitement. They’re talking up potential vice-presidential candidates who would represent a demographic first, or an ideological statement, or play to a state or region. My guess is that Romney is looking at this in a completely different way.
President Obama hasn’t had much luck in getting living Republicans to endorse his proposed “Buffett rule,” which would ensure that the highest earners pay a minimum federal tax rate of 30 percent. To find a Republican supporter he has had to raid Ronald Reagan’s tomb. In a speech on April 11, Obama noted that Reagan, as president, had sought to prevent multimillionaires from paying lower tax rates than bus drivers.
A year from now, the federal government will start collecting a new tax on medical devices from tongue depressors to imaging machines, thanks to the sweeping health-care overhaul that Democrats enacted in the spring of 2010. People in the industry say it’s already having an effect.