#NoApologyBookClub – Entitlements, Healthcare, Education

 (This is the fifth #NoApologyBoockClub post. The fourth post is here.)


Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid together make up more than half of all federal spending. Entitlement spending takes up more than 11% of our GDP; in comparison, the defense budget is less than 4%. At the current rate of entitlement spending growth, one of two scenarios by mis-centruy is possible: one is if tax rates remain the same, then entitlements would consume all federal spending; another is that just to keep pace with entitlement spending, taxes would have to be raised to 44% by then.

“Our grandchildren would watch helplessly as 44 percent of their total earnings were taken simply to maintain mandated Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid payments to their grandparents and parents. Their total federal tax burden would far exceed half of what they earn. In practical terms, America would cease to be the land of opportunity. The American dream would be over.”

Romney blames the “political shell game” for getting us into this situation. The federal government has has habit of hiding its long-term liabilities. It publishes (or used to) an annual budget but not a balance sheet. Congress uses 10 years scoring to hide the costs of new entitlement expansion bills to the 11th year. Politicians (and lobbyists behind them) promise short term benefits while hiding the long-term costs. The first step to fixing this is tp create public awareness of the issue, and then be open to considering all possible approaches to fixing it. There are many possible paths to sustainable entitlements, what is needed is the political will and courage. At the same time it is important not to frighten seniors; reforms must be concurrent with guarantees that the benefits they rely on will not disappear.


Romney starts this chapter by recounting his experience at Bain with Morristown Memorial Hospital in New Jersey, back in 1983. This experience was prelude to Romneycare. He credits his friend Tom Stemberg for urging him “Mitt, if you really want to help people, find a way for everyone to get health insurance.” Romney initially thought this was impossible, specially as he had promised not to raise taxes. But he & his staff spent a year collecting and analyzing data and they did come up with model that works.

The basics for creating a workable, affordable system that insures everyone and keeps private insurance and personal choice intact are these: First, create incentives for those that can afford insurance to actually purchase it …. Second, create an exchange to help make buying insurance easier for individual – as opposed to corporate – buyers. … Third, help the poor buy their own private insurance with a sliding-scale subsidy.  …My own preference would be to let each state fashion its own program to meet the distinct needs of its citizens.

Achieving universal access is only part of the battle. The real challenge is reducing costs. In Romney’s analysis, fixing health care costs begins with fixing incentives.  Health-care consumers and health-care providers need incentives to keep costs down. His ideas are developed on his campaign site, and they start with repealing Obamacare.


Romney believes deeply in the value of education, and he is alarmed at the fact that America is lagging behind other nations in all measures in education. Education, says Romney, is a civil right.

There is no greater indictment of American government than the sorry state of American education. It is an epic failure.

During his third year as governor, Massachusetts’ fourth graders scored 1st in all fifty states in Math and English. Eighth graders  also scored 1st in Math and English. This was the 1st time any state had been ranked first in all four measures. Romney credits not just himself, but his predecessors and the largely Democratic legislature for working together. As in with healthcare, Romney approaches the problem of education by looking at data, and looking at  incentives and accountability as well as the obstacles to reform that teachers unions present. To show how he expands this vision to the national level, I will again cheat by point to his website on his plan for education.

Open thread for anything relating to domestic policy, Romney, or the elections.

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53 Responses to #NoApologyBookClub – Entitlements, Healthcare, Education

  1. gram cracker says:

    OT Votermom hope you don’t mind my posting Doug Ross’s…

    TWIN TIMELINE: What was happening in Benghazi and Washington

    Last night I heard Newt Gingrich ask for a twin timeline to help illustrate what was happening in Benghazi and in Washington. Newt’s wish is my command:


  2. tommy says:

    My views on this has a libertarian tilt. We’re broke. Now most don’t want to accept that, or want to just gloss over it. There has to be across the board cuts in entitlements and defense. Yes, its gonna be painful, but somebody has to take a first step. The govt. has to become a lean, mean machine. Its become far too bloated. And both repubs and dems are responsible. No more holy cows, on both sides. Regarding healthcare and education, I can do a whole post regarding each. Unless we learn from the rest of the world in those spheres, we’re doomed. Romney is suggesting a band-aid, but in todays partisan rancor, thats a good first step. Otherwise, sooner or later, we’ll implode. And its gonna be much sooner than you think it is. Unless the squabbling siblings (pubs and dems) don’t compromise, we’ll just steer a merry path right over the cliff. Thats what partisan politics has come to.

    • votermom says:

      There has to be across the board cuts in entitlements and defense.

      It has to be thoughtful, otherwise we may end up like someone getting an amputation to lose weight.

  3. gram cracker says:

    More Benghazi revelations… this time from CBS’s Sharyl Attkinson. Looks like some women journalists are actually doing the best investigative journalism of Benghazigate.

    I gotta leave now to go to the “Victory Rally with Mitt & Ann Romney, Paul Ryan & Janna Ryan, John Kasich, Rob Portman, John Boehner, And the Republican Team with Special Musical Performance by Kid Rock”. Had lunch with friends who live close to event location in West Chester, OH. They said tents are being put up for this outdoor event and a big crowd is expected.


  4. votermom says:

    Hey, Mitt Romney called me! 😀

    • elliesmom says:

      I still have Bill Clinton thanking me for working for Hillary recorded on my answering machine.

  5. elliesmom says:

    I had the privilege of being part of a focus group on education that included Mitt Romney. When we had all had a chance to speak, Romney shared his view on education, funding, and priorities. When it comes to education financing, it really is a zero sum game. When you give one population of students some of the money for their “special interest”, you do have less money to spend on other children. Unfortunately, it does pit one group of students and their parents against another. No Child Left Standing is about moving students from one achievement level to the next in order to keep your classification as a well-performing school. The highest priority is getting students who are failing into the “needs improvement” category. Then the next is getting the “needs improvement’ kids to “proficient”. There is a higher category of achievement, but a school with every child “proficient” will not be penalized for having no advanced students.

    When kids are “sorted”, the students with the most severe special needs, kids who need out of district placement, get their share of the pie first. Federal law requires it. Parents may have to fight to get their kids classified as needing this level of financial support, but once your child is there so is the funding. Then schools look at the kids who are just south of the passing score on the qualifying test. These kids get the smaller class sizes, after school tutoring, and whatever else it takes to get them over the hump. The last group to get special attention are the kids who are just south of proficient. Kids less than 5 points from the required score to make the leap.

    Whatever is left of the pie finds itself being fought over by the parents whose kids are too “specially needy” to be expected to make it to the “needs improvement” category w/o major invention, but not “specially needy’ enough to get out of district placement (and exempted from the test), the parents of the “gifted students”, and the parents of the vast majority of students who fall between the gateposts from one level to the next, but not close enough to them to make it across the divide w/o a big effort, which costs time and time is money.

    Today the decisions about how where a community allocates its educational resources is largely dictated by federal law. If this was the best way to ensure all children have equality of outcome, which is the goal of NCLB, it has been the law of the land long enough we should be able to see a growing improvement in the quality of our recent high school graduates. I don’t think so,Tim. Mitt Romney believes, or so he said in this group meeting, that one size does not fit all, and while the federal government might be able to help with ensuring all schools have adequate resources, decisions about how to use them should be made closer to home. He stopped short of saying equality of outcome is a an impossible goal, but he was facing a hostile audience – the Massachusetts Teacher Association. In private, I don’t know any teacher who believes the goals of NCLB can ever be reached, but to say so publicly is tantamount to saying you can’t do the job expected of you.

    Given the high level of achievement from students in MA schools under Romney’s governance, I think we have a better chance of improving our educational system under his watch than under the watch of the guy who appointed the superintendent of one of the worst performing school districts in the country as his Secretary of Education.

    I’ll keep quiet now and shove the soapbox under my desk.

    • votermom says:

      No, please don’t stay quiet! We need your experience & knowledge.
      When I read the chapter on this I got the sense that he is really passionate about education. And he even has two charts in it – what a geek! 🙂
      (The charts are actually to make his point that at a certain point, class size is NOT as important as other factors.)

      • elliesmom says:

        There are a few things I disagree with Mitt on. One is bi-lingual education vs English immersion for all students. When I taught middle school, immersion worked just fine. Within a few weeks the kids have learned “playground English”. It’s easy at that time to assume the kids are ready for full immersion into the classroom, but they are still thinking in their native language, and it’s hard for them to keep up in an academic setting. By the end of the first year, though, they can usually keep up in class if the teacher is sensitive to speaking a little more slowly and has a good enough vocabulary in her field to offer explanations in multiple ways.

        But when I taught high school, the kids who showed up in an American school for the first time at 15 or 16 and were immersed in English only classes would find themselves significantly behind their peers for a long time if they had been good students in their homeland and totally lost if they were lacking a good foundation before they arrived. While I haven’t been able to find dropout rates for kids taught bi-lingually vs. kids who were immersed at the high school level, I know a lot of our kids who were immersed after Romney and the legislature made it illegal to teach kids in anything but English dropped out. While the goal of having every student who graduates from our high schools fluent in English is laudable, for some of the kids that comes at the cost of their ever getting a diploma at all.

        But he’s right on about the teachers’ unions. I was reported more than once by my fellow teachers for allowing an extra kid or two into one of my classes.

        • Jadzia says:

          Two of my young kids (4 and 5 at the time) went full immersion when we moved to France and it worked out great; this year (their 2nd year in the school system here) they both skipped a grade. But I can’t imagine how tough it would be to be junior high or high school age and be expected to learn a second language AND keep up scholastically. It pretty much sounds impossible.

    • ME says:

      I’m excited about what he will do for education, hopefully eradicating bureaucracy and focusing on student achievement. My children attend public school and the system is broken. We need to think about quality of teachers. New ipads and technology is great but not needed. I taught my preschool aged children to read with Bob Books. If non American students can outperform ours there is a problem. see. stossels stupid in america

    • He’s right, and so is is his wife when she says we need to scrap the current system and start over. The problem is two-fold: nationalization of standards, and at the local level, the delivery system. When my students write an argumentative essay, we watch a bunch of argument-based videos. This, on our current education paradigm, is my favorite one:

      • elliesmom says:

        Great video! As I’ve alluded to before, I took a non-traditional route to become a teacher. I was fortunate to be selected to do some of my teacher training at one of the Challenger Centers. As an engineer I always worked as part of a group, and collaboration and negotiation skills were essential to success. While I was at the Challenger Center, learning how to teach those skills was a high priority, as was learning how to adapt to a teaching style that was more “guide on the side” than “sage on the stage”. When I took my first teaching job, I was rudely awakened to the reality that neither students, parents, nor my fellow educators supported any group work at all. Parents were worried group work would negatively impact their kids’ grades, students were convinced one person would get stuck doing all of the work, and my fellow educators were concerned the kids would begin working collaboratively in other classes where it was considered cheating. Then I opened a chat room for a hour each night for the kids to get some supervised homework help, which the kids loved, but the union threatened to fine me for. I currently consult for a large online high school system, and the biggest hurdle is getting colleges to recognize the coursework as being valid. Every course is taught by a “highly qualified teacher”, but if you haven’t physically killed a frog and cut it up, you haven’t really taken a biology course. Most of the kids finally came around to accepting the value of collaborative learning and not needing to have your teacher in the room with you, but the adults are still stuck in the same seats they sat in high school.

  6. Underwhelmed says:

    OT — in the ‘better late than never’ category, they’ve cancelled the marathon. To think they even had to think about it for more than 5 seconds. Scum.

  7. myiq2xu says:

    I was hoping for a remake of Escape From New York

  8. myiq2xu says:

    I went out shopping and scored. I got three used books including The Girl Who Played With Fire and bought a used DVD copy of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – all for $20

    That should hold me until Tuesday.

  9. votermom says:

    Fun map to play with

  10. Thomas4Clinton says:

    Hello all. Sorry this is a bit OT and I know I haven’t posted in quite a while (even though I regularly check in to lurk) but I felt like I had to share this forwarded set of talking points from my father in law’s Obot second wife. As you can see below, she really doesn’t have a clue and is a willing Kool-Aid guzzler to forward this now. This is what today’s Democratic campaign is using on the weak minded who are grasping at straws.
    I don’t know which over the top lie infuriates me the most – probably 12 through 16; Obamacare that is an admitted tax on Americans to bail out the Healthcare insurance industry with guaranteed profits into the billions and with no real reform of costs and health care delivery that I can tell. And lest I forget the stealing from Medicare to finance the abomination. When the public option was taken off the table, that should have tipped off the wild-eyed, left wing that they were scammed.
    My dilemma is whether to categorically shoot down this foolishness ( bumper sticker by bumper sticker) and cause a rift in the family just before a Christmas visit or let it go with no response or with a simple suggestion that it may not be wise to spread propaganda at this time risking insult to the family’s collective intelligence. Over the years most of us who were thrown under the bus have had to deal with the simple uniformed or serious fools in the family and the work place. Every situation dictates a different response, but I’ll consider any suggestion.
    Personally, as a still registered (FDR) Democrat, I have made the evolution with most of you and will vote for proven competence and intelligent management of our federal government, and will actually look forward to a new fresh wind of real change that represents our values over party affiliation. The corrupt DNC really has to be defeated first before it can soul search. Now get ready to hold your nose:

    “Every now and again, the other side likes to claim President Obama doesn’t have a record to run on. They’re wrong. Here’s a taste of why:

    (Just a couple of) the Obama Administration’s accomplishments:

    1. The first bill President Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to help women fight back when they don’t get equal pay for equal work.
    2. His Recovery Act supported millions of jobs and helped to stave off a second Great Depression.

    3. He pushed for and won middle-class tax cuts that benefitted every American worker, and saved the typical family $3,600 in taxes over the last four years.

    4. President Obama rescued the auto industry, and now GM and Chrysler are healthier than they’ve ever been. The American auto industry has added nearly a quarter of a million jobs since June 2009 — and they most likely wouldn’t exist right now without President Obama’s leadership.

    5. He doubled funding for Pell Grants, helping to make college more affordable for nearly 10 million families.

    6. His student loan reform ended billions in subsidies to banks serving as middlemen and reinvested those savings directly into students.

    7. The President established the American Opportunity Tax Credit, worth up to $10,000 over four years of college.

    8. His Race to the Top Initiative helped spur nearly every state to raise academic standards.

    9. His tax cuts, social-welfare programs, and economic policies lifted nearly 7 million Americans above the federal poverty line in 2010.

    10. President Obama has signed 18 tax cuts for small businesses since taking office.

    11. We’ve seen 5.2 million new private-sector jobs over the last 31 months.

    12. The unemployment rate is at the lowest level since President Obama took office.

    13. Health care reform — passed after decades of failed attempts by every previous President — provides affordable health coverage to every American and will lower premiums by an average of $2,000 per family by 2019.

    14. Obamacare expanded access to lifesaving preventive care such as cancer screenings and immunizations with no out-of-pocket costs for 54 million Americans.

    15. Obamacare ends insurance discrimination against the 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions.

    16. Because of Obamacare, over 3 million more young adults have health insurance today than would if the new law hadn’t passed.

    17. The parents of over 17 million children with pre-existing conditions no longer have to worry that their children will be denied coverage.

    18. President Obama has ordered the overhaul of federal government regulations to make them smarter, practical, and more efficient. Just a fraction of these commonsense initiatives will help save businesses $10 billion in the next five years alone.

    19. His historic investments in clean energy have helped more than double the amount of electricity we obtain from wind and solar sources and helped increase biofuel production to its highest level in history.

    20. President Obama is doubling fuel efficiency standards, which will save drivers more than $8,000 at the gas pump, not to mention lessen the impact of automobiles on our environment.

    21. President Obama has taken unprecedented action to address climate change, reaching historic international agreements to curb carbon emissions, and taking action here at home to reduce carbon pollution from our vehicles and promote clean energy production.

    22. He has taken historic action to protect our environment — signing one of the largest expansions of protected wilderness in a generation and putting in place standards to reduce toxic air pollution that will save thousands of lives.

    23. President Obama fought for and won landmark Wall Street reform that reins in the abuses that led to the financial crisis and ends the era of taxpayer bailouts and “too big to fail.”

    24. Wall Street reform created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the nation’s first federal agency focused solely on consumer financial protection — and the Bureau is already protecting families from unfair and abusive financial practices from Wall Street banks and shadowy corners of the financial industry.

    25. As part of President Obama’s commitment to transparency, the White House has posted its visitor records online for the first time ever.

    26. President Obama’s all-of-the-above approach to energy has helped cut the United States’ dependence on foreign oil to its lowest level in 20 years.

    27. President Obama responsibly ended the war in Iraq.

    28. He announced a plan to end the war in Afghanistan and transition security responsibility to the Afghan people.

    29. President Obama sent the largest security assistance package to Israel in history and funded the Iron Dome system, which is protecting Israeli homes and schools from rocket attacks.

    30. President Obama rallied the international community to implement the toughest sanctions on Iran in history.

    31. Through the President’s historic increases in Veterans Affairs funding, he has expanded and improved healthcare and job training access for our returning veterans.

    32. President Obama negotiated the New START Treaty with Russia to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in both countries. At the same time, he also secured commitments from dozens of other countries to lock down nuclear materials.

    33. His administration naturalized 11,146 military service members as U.S. citizens in 2010; more than in any year since 1955.

    34. President Obama set a bold new plan for the future of NASA space exploration, using the skill and ability of the private sector for short trips to the International Space Station, while building a new vehicle for exploration of distant space, and doing everything in his power to support the economy on Florida’s Space Coast.

    35. President Obama recognizes that tourism is one of America’s largest economic engines; he’s worked to encourage international visitors to come here, maintaining our security while keeping millions of Americans in good, paying jobs.

    36. He has affirmed his personal support of marriage equality, directed the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA in federal courts, and took the practical and compassionate step of extending hospital visitation rights to same-sex partners.

    37. He fought for and won the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, allowing gay and lesbian members of the military to serve openly for the first time in history.

    38. When Congress failed to fix our broken immigration system, his administration did everything in its power to improve it, streamlining the legal immigration process and announcing a policy that lifts the shadow of deportation from hard working young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

    39. Oh, and he gave the order to send troops in after Osama Bin Laden — and has decimated al-Qaeda’s senior leadership.”

    • angienc says:

      Decimated means reduced by 10% — so that last point could be true.

      • angienc says:

        BTW — not that I expect Obama supporters who are stupid enough/misinformed enough to believe points 1-38 to know what decimated means.

    • jjmtacoma says:

      Damn! I had no idea he had done so much! I really should learn not to trust my lying eyes.

      Love #39 – that has Lefty appeal all over it.

      I used to get this kind of stuff about GWB from my right winger family members. There is nothing you can do except smile indulgently, as if they are children with big ideas about using sling shots to launch satellites.

      • Thomas4Clinton says:

        Thanks. Probably the best thing to do, and I like Obama’s bold new plan for space exploration and the first coast. Later.

    • piper says:

      Let it go and try to enjoy your holiday visit. Her mind is made up and nothing you’ll say will change her feelings. Of course, she will be devastated when he loses.

      • Of course, she will be devastated when he loses.

        Front row seats are the best anyway, so enjoy it.

        • Thomas4Clinton says:

          O.K. Wonder how many years Obama will keep coming back or being brought back in the public eye and Democratic events as the “party elder”. Damn another four years.

    • DandyTiger says:

      Yep, I’ve heard most of those points from my Obot friends. Sigh. Nothing for it, they’re gone. Just hope we get through this and they eventually wake up. Sadly they’ll probably be like the 25% that still thinks GWB is the greatest president ever.

  11. angienc says:


  12. piper says:

    WI internals must be down for obama – a flood of new ads on most tv channels from morn to night. Will be either streaming Netflix or watching Dark Shadows DVD’s to keep peace in our home.

  13. cj says:

    Both McCain & Ayotte bring up Bengahzi at the rally tonight.

  14. cj says:

    John Podhoretz‏@jpodhoretz

    Big question if you’re watching the early part of the rally: Is Romney going to go hard on Benghazi?

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