People who know me here know that the Time’s Michael Gordon is my bible on foreign affairs. I am beginning to have a similar appreciation for David Leonhardt’s coverage of the economy. Who can argue with the acuity of insight of the following?
As expensive as the damage control may be, it isn’t likely to cost near as much as the headline numbers suggest. More to the point, the alternative — not spending some serious money to deal with the crisis — would probably end up costing a lot more. As it is, the various bailouts are not the main reason next year’s deficit is growing. The deteriorating state of the economy is.
Leonhardt goes on to point out that the government will eventually get most of its money back and in the end the government probably won’t be out but a couple of hundred billion, tops. I find this very re-assuring even if Leonhardt doesn’t say anything about how current efforts will help distressed homeowners or re-establish the housing market or what the real costs of re-capitalizing the banking system are likely to be.
To put things in perspective, Leonhardt notes that what we should really be afraid of is Medicare. I agree with this completely. Again who can argue with the imminence of a problem that will hit, as Leonhardt notes, two decades from now? This is the first time I have heard the looming threat of Medicare raised in the present discourse. Well, the first time since a certain senior, or perhaps I should say, very senior Senator brought it up last night in a Presidential debate. Great minds thinking alike, no doubt. In any case, I am glad to see that Leonhardt has firmly put the current economic situation in its place and identified for us what the real danger is, i.e. entitlements, not Wall Street.