This week on Off the Charts, we focused on the government shutdown and debt limit debate, health reform, and the safety net.
On the government shutdown and debt limit debate, Sharon Parrott explained that the impact of the shutdown will increase over time. Robert Greenstein responded to various proposals from House Republicans concerning the government shutdown and debt limit: he noted that an offer from House Republicans was anything but a reasonable and middle-ground compromise; explained that Rep. Paul Ryan’s recent proposal outlined in a Wall Street Journal op-ed is more of what got us to this impasse in the first place; and criticized a House Republican proposal to appoint a committee to recommend ways of reducing the deficit, without raising any revenues, while the government remains shut down. Greenstein also clarified that this shutdown is very different, and far more dangerous, than past shutdowns. Paul Van de Water reiterated that resurrecting the “Boehner Rule,” which demands spending cuts equal to any increase in the debt limit, will produce extremist policies.
On health reform, Judy Solomon explained that a potential GOP demand to end the government shutdown would undermine health reform by delaying the law’s premium and cost-sharing subsidies. Solomon also noted that early results from Connecticut show that health reform is helping young adults get coverage, and she pointed to the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured’s annual survey on states’ Medicaid budgets that shows that state Medicaid spending will grow more slowly in states that are expanding the program. Chye-Ching Huang reiterated that the proposed offset for health reform’s medical device tax can’t actually “pay for” anything.
On the safety net, Arloc Sherman explained that if unemployment insurance hadn’t weakened, poverty would have fallen in the last two years instead of remaining stubbornly high.