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Sandy # Posted on October 18, 2013 at 9:49 am

@reinvented2012,

“What are the chances of real reform in the US in terms of those large spending chunks? ”

Unfortunately, I think we’ll just muddle through. All congressmen have huge incentives to add pork to the bills. Tax reform would wipe out a lot of special interest group benefits, so that’s a no-go. And there’s a lot of pushback on reforming social services. I think raising the social security retirement age might pass (grandfather in the current retirees of course.)

If I had to choose, I’d take a libertarian over a Tea Party nut. The Tea Party seems racist to me, and their platform is based on outright lies about the Constitution and the level of religiosity of the founding fathers. At least libertarians have a cogent theory about how to run a (small) government, and they suggest cutting the military as much as social services.

The gerrymandered House congressional districts mean a party is guaranteed to win a district, so then primary candidates compete to be more extreme in their platform. Then you get a lot of unqualified nuts in the House. That’s not going to change soon, unfortunately.

Personally, I like the idea of a single payer national health service. It works very well in most wealthy nations in terms of costs and effectiveness. I also like federal funding for scientific research, education, infrastructure, and the arts. It breaks my heart to see the tiny amount of research and art funding slashed when all of that investment in the future costs the same as one (delayed, over budget, and do we even need manned fighter jets any more?) fighter jet.

We desperately need immigration reform. And that might actually pass. We train the brightest minds in the world in our universities, and just when they want to start innovative businesses here, we kick them out. Also, tech firms are desperate to scoop up the best and brightest from other countries, but can’t get visas for them. Immigrants shift the demographics towards young and healthy while several other countries (China, Japan) will be growing older (fewer workers, more dependents.)

My hope is a return to the Clinton years: a strong economy made it possible to be a fiscally conservative Democrat, with reform (but not outright slashing) of social services, maintaining a necessary military, and still having a budget surplus. How to get to a strong economy, though… There’s the question up for debate!