The New York Times, of all places, has a pretty darned good editorial this morning about the New York state budget:
It is time for the Legislature to face facts. New York spends twice the national average on Medicaid at $2,283 per person. That is the highest average in the country, with Rhode Island a distant second at $1,659. Mr. Paterson wants to scale back the health care budget by $471 million. That seems the least the state should do. Education is even more costly. The national average per student is $9,138; New York spends $14,884. Mr. Paterson's plan to cut education costs by about 3 percent, or $686 million, is clearly in line with what's necessary....Democrats are going to have to say no to the unions, especially those representing health care workers, educators and state employees. It is past time for a less-extravagant pension system that is fairer to taxpayers. It is also time to consider layoffs or furloughs of state employees, as other states have done.
It's tempting to say that in a few years, once Democrats at the national level are done implementing the policies the Times is calling for, the Times will be writing similar stories about the need to cut health care and education spending and say no to the unions at the national level. Somehow the national level seems more abstract and theoretical, but in New York City the math of the out-of-control spending becomes so out-of-control that even the left-wingers at the Times can observe that it is untenable. By the way, we'd wager that more than a few of those Times owners and editors send their children to private schools where the tuition tops $14,884 a year, and that their health insurance premiums are a lot more than the government spends on Medicaid for the poor. Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that, but it's a bit inconsistent with the usual world-view of Times editorials, in which everyone should be entitled to the same education and health care benefits no matter how hard they work or how much money they have.