What has Pelosi achieved?
First, as House minority leader, she played a crucial role in turning back George W. Bush’s attempt to privatize Social Security.
.. Then she was the key figure, arguably even more crucial than President Barack Obama, in passing the Affordable Care Act, which produced a spectacular fall in the number of uninsured Americans and has proved surprisingly robust even in the face of Trumpian sabotage.
She helped enact financial reform, which has turned out to be more vulnerable to being undermined, but still helped stabilize the economy and protected many Americans from fraud.
Pelosi also helped pass the Obama stimulus plan, which economists overwhelmingly agree mitigated job losses from the financial crisis, as well as playing a role in laying the foundation for a green energy revolution.
.. whenever you hear Republicans claim that Pelosi is some kind of wild-eyed leftist, ask yourself, what’s so radical about protecting retirement income, expanding health care and reining in runaway bankers?
It’s probably also worth noting that Pelosi has been untouched by allegations of personal scandal, which is amazing given the right’s ability to manufacture such allegations out of thin air.
this year, benefits exceeded both taxes and interest, meaning that Social Security had to dip into the principal of the Social Security Trust Fund for the first time.
.. The Social Security Trust Fund is not — and never has been — an asset that can be used to pay benefits. Instead, it is an accounting measure of how much money Social Security can draw from general revenues.
.. Social Security’s total unfunded liabilities now exceed $37 trillion, on a discounted-present-value basis over the infinite horizon... Congress also repealed the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), an Obamacare provision that would have limited provider reimbursements... In actuality, Medicare has been running a cash-flow deficit for decades... there can be no long-term reduction in the national debt without addressing these massive entitlement programs. Social Security now costs nearly $1 trillion per year, and Medicare more than $700 billion... Those two programs alone account for some 40 percent of all federal spending.
Income inequality describes the gap between a six-figure salary and minimum wage. But the more alarming gap occurs in wealth — a household’s total assets minus debts.
.. According to our research, wealth inequality is much worse among families with children, and the gap has widened greatly over the past two decades
.. The demographer Samuel Preston warned in 1984 that the United States had made “a set of private and public choices that have dramatically altered the age profile of well-being,” by devoting resources toward improving conditions for the elderly while neglecting to do the same for families with children.
.. Unlike income, which can change quickly because of a booming economy or a rise in the minimum wage, changes in wealth usually happen slowly.
.. Parental wealth is also a critical determinant of where children live and the quality of the schools they attend. It can affect the kind of job they have, if and when they marry, and whether they own their homes.
Paul Ryan’s fate over the past several years is as good an indication as any of how far our politics have fallen.
.. Though the anti-Ryan vitriol faded after Steve Bannon’s defenestration, he continued to be viewed with suspicion by the talk-radio crowd and other arms of Trump Inc.
This was his reward for attempting to drag his party, and the country, toward a grown-up reckoning with our debt. Nearly singlehandedly, Paul Ryan had managed to put tackling entitlements on the national agenda.
.. making incremental reforms now—with no changes for current beneficiaries or those in their 50s—can prevent drastic shortfalls and extreme benefit cuts that will be necessary in just 16 years when Social Security is depleted. The outlook is even worse for Medicare and Medicaid.
But Donald Trump arrived on scene with the supposedly blinding insight that changes to entitlements are unpopular. Well, no kidding. He promised never to touch Medicare and Social Security—not even to ensure their future solvency. And so, the responsible, future-oriented Paul Ryan found himself governing with a backward-looking, whistling past the graveyard president.
.. Ryan and the party he helped to lead also lost its compass on Ryan’s own signature issue—fiscal responsibility.
.. it would have been nice if the party that fulminated about the dangers of deficits in the Obama years had found anything at all to cut—particularly when the economy is growing and unemployment is low.
.. Under Republican guidance, the federal deficit will be roughly double what it was in the final year of the Obama administration.
.. What has Trump taught? That trade wars are the way to improve the lives of the working class? They are popular, at least with Republicans.
.. 65 percent of Republicans favored Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs.
.. We are not behaving as responsible adults. Our greatest political challenge is out of control debt. Our greatest social challenges are declining families, increasing dependency, and eroding social cohesion. The debt could have been addressed by government.