WaPo's Robert J. Samuelson is at it again here on Black Friday, berating us all for not making "unpopular choices" regarding "who deserves benefits, how much and why?" without for once mentioning that a bunch of Americans do not have health insurance, making it the only OECD nation not to do so, even as he reveals that the US is the second biggest "welfare state" in the OECD, behind only France. Yes, for direct government social spending US is 23rd at 19% of GDP, behind the OECD average of 22%. But, take into account indirect support through the private sector, especially tax breaks for employer-provided health insurance, well, then we are at 30% of GDP for our hybrid system, behind only the 32% of France, oh horror or horrors!
So, anybody thinking about it more than RJS will understand that a major reason we spend so much is the high cost of our health care, gobbling 18% of GDP, compared to 12% for France and less for most other OECD nations. So, we can spend all this much and still be the only OECD nation not providing health insurance for everybody, but this is not a problem for RJS. Obviously we need to cut benefits from current recipients. Not a word about further efforts to cut health care costs through such things that Dean Baker proposes, such as scaling back drug patents or opening up immigration for physicians. What a joke, but not a surprise from the gang at the WaPo ed page and particularly that non-economist economist, Robert J. Samuelson.