$500 Million for Nothing

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 11 2012 9:22 AM

$500 Million for Nothing

My new piece, over here, looks at the long war of Pete Peterson and other deficit hawks who've tried to prod Washington into an entitlement-cutting debt deal. It's a bit of an epic, and I break off only part of it here -- accidentally playing Peter Jackson. But my main point is that the Peterson (and Peterson-alike) campaigns have been viewed as Trojan horses for entitlement cuts, without being clear enough to really pressure people on entitlement cuts. It's an endless, Leninist strategy that doesn't get results the way -- oh, a random example -- getting every Republican to take a no-tax pledge gets results.

To wit, from Ezra Klein's read on debt negotiations mentions the Medicare eligibility age, a longtime Peterson goal.

Though it’s emerged, alongside chained-CPI, as the GOP’s top ask in the negotiations, it’s disconnected from any larger theory about how to slow the rise in health-care costs. There’s no particular conservative — or even non-conservative — policy goal that raising the Medicare eligibility age advances.

If only some well-funded campaign informed them that this idea -- and only this idea -- would save America. Instead, there's a lot of coalition-building to nowhere.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.