Good Compromise, Bad Compromise

Blog Post
Wednesday, July 24, 2019

During the most recent Facing the Future, Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert L. Bixby and Policy Director Josh Gordon joined me to discuss action by Congress on the so-called “Cadillac Tax” within the Affordable Care Act and the news that a two-year budget agreement had been tentatively agreed to by elected leaders. 

“It does look like the Senate, the House and President have all reached a bipartisan budget deal, and the good news is that it makes it less likely that we will have a government shutdown at the end of September,” Bixby said. “The other good news is that they suspended the debt limit for another two years as part of this agreement; so that means that we wouldn’t have to worry about the prospect of a government default anytime soon.” 

Bixby said the bad news is that the cost of doing all of this is about $320 billion over current spending caps, with hardly any offsets. “That’s how bipartisan deals are done in Washington these days,” he said. “Fiscal responsibility isn’t at the top of the list.” 

Gordon said one of the things he was discouraged by with this proposed budget compromise was that it marks the end of the budget caps as a procedural means to induce discussions in Congress about the budget and paying for increases in discretionary spending. 

Gordon also gave an update on the “Cadillac Tax,” which Congress is currently considering repealing entirely, after the tax’s repeated delay in enforcement. It was one of the primary “pay-fors” in the ACA that was also expected to help reduce long-term health care costs. 

“This was the biggest, of what the Congressional Budget Office called a “curve-bender” for long-term health care costs in the Affordable Care Act, and without it there the ACA loses some claim to the mantel of how much it accomplished on long-term health care costs,” Gordon said.

Concord’s New Hampshire State Director Tyler Sweeney and two summer interns, Ari Huff and Matthew Livi, were also on the program to talk about what it is like to engage presidential candidates during the New Hampshire Primary. 

“I think that fiscal responsibility is such a high priority, yet the thing that surprised me is how many candidates didn’t necessarily have the federal debt or the deficit as part of an agenda on which they had a strict policy,” Huff said. 

Livi discussed what it is like engaging candidates on the campaign trail, asking fiscal policy related questions. “For the most part, candidates have been receptive; some have given more detailed answers than others,” he said. 

Huff said, “we try really hard to deliver our questions in a way that is as nonpartisan as possible, that is as open and friendly as possible, to encourage candidates to engage on the issue.” 

Hear more on “Facing the Future.” I host the program each week on WKXL, NHTalkRadio.com (N.H.), and it is also available via podcast. Join me and my guests as we discuss issues relating to national fiscal policy with budget experts, industry leaders, elected officials and candidates for public office. Past broadcasts are available here. You can now subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play or through RSS.