What’s best for America’s security

I thnk I've said that I hate to repeat myself, but I'll say it again: when it comes to two-trillion dollar wars of choice, for Robert Samuelson, no amount of spending is too much:

Yes, that column made big mistakes. The war has cost far more than I (or almost anyone) anticipated. Still, I defend the column's central thesis, which remains relevant today: Budget costs should not shape our Iraq policy. Frankly, I don't know what we should do now. But in considering the various proposals — President Bush's "surge," fewer troops or redeployment of those already there — the costs should be a footnote. We ought to focus mostly on what's best for America's security.

When it comes to health care reform, for Robert Samuelson, no amount of spending is too little:

The remaining uninsured may also exceed estimates. Under the Senate bill, they would total 24 million in 2019, reckons Richard Foster, chief actuary of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. But a wild card is immigration. From 1999 to 2008, about 60 percent of the increase in the uninsured occurred among Hispanics. That was related to immigrants and their children (many American-born). Most illegal immigrants aren't covered by Obama's proposal. If we don't curb immigration of the poor and unskilled — people who can't afford insurance — Obama's program will be less effective and more expensive than estimated. Hardly anyone mentions immigrants' impact, because it seems insensitive.

Meanwhile, the health-care proposals would impose substantial costs. Remember: The country already faces huge increases in federal spending and taxes or deficits because an aging population will receive more Social Security and Medicare. Projections the Congressional Budget Office made in 2007 suggested that federal spending might rise almost 50 percent by 2030 as a share of the economy (gross domestic product). Since that estimate, the recession and massive deficits have further bloated the national debt.

Obama's plan might add almost an additional $1 trillion in spending over a decade — and more later. Even if this is fully covered, as Obama contends, by higher taxes and cuts in Medicare reimbursements, this revenue could have been used to cut the existing deficits. But the odds are that the new spending isn't fully covered, because Congress might reverse some Medicare reductions before they take effect. Projected savings seem "unrealistic," says Foster. Similarly, the legislation creates a voluntary long-term care insurance program that's supposedly paid by private premiums. Foster suspects it's "unsustainable," suggesting a need for big federal subsidies.

There is no question the current health care legislation falls far short of resolving the issue (no one can claim that it has).  It certainly falls far short of what I had hoped for.  But, gee, if we can afford to blow money on a war of choice, why not treat ourselves and our fellow citizens to a little doctor visit once and a while.

As for the point about America's security, this is one way to put it.