Sunday, March 06, 2016

The Kasich Con

At this point, according to Predictwise, John Kasich has the fourth-best chance of getting the Republican nomination. It’s not a big chance — 5 percent — but you can imagine a scenario in which the stop Trump forces produce a hung convention, and Kasich emerges as the supposedly reasonable candidate. So an advance warning: he’s a con artist too.
For one thing, he engages in his own form of ludicrous self-aggrandizement, claiming to have been the “architect” of the briefly balanced federal budget of the late Clinton years — which is sheer fantasy:
That’s only true if by “chief architect,” you mean that he voted against the two bills that did the most to get the government in the black, and sponsored one thatsounded like it did a lot but actually didn’t.
But what provoked this post was his line, which he repeats often, about wanting to “Uberize” the federal government. Ask yourself: what is that supposed to mean?
Bear in mind that the federal government is best thought of as a giant insurance company with an army. Nondefense spending is dominated by Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and a few smaller social-insurance programs (now including the subsidies in the Affordable Care Act.) How, exactly, is an Uber-like model supposed to do anything to make that work better?
And don’t say it would remove the vast armies of bureaucrats. Administrative costs for those federal programs are actually quite low compared with the private sector, mainly because they’re not trying to deny coverage and don’t engage in competitive advertising.
If Kasich means anything, he means “privatize”, not Uberize — convert Social Security into a giant 401(k) plan, replace Medicare with vouchers. But that wouldn’t poll very well, would it?
The point is that Kasich is running on a false boast about his past and a nonsense slogan about the present. No, he’s not the grownup in the room.
Paul Krugman

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