Barack Obama’s administration spent much of 2009 preoccupied domestically with the political fight to extend health insurance to the millions of Americans who have none. Every other developed country provides universal health insurance, but the US debate highlights an issue that will worry almost all of them in 2010 and beyond: the struggle to control health-care costs.
PRINCETON – President Barack Obama’s administration spent much of 2009 preoccupied domestically with the political fight over extending health insurance to the tens of millions of Americans who have none. People living in other industrialized countries find this difficult to understand. They have a right to health care, and even conservative governments do not attempt to take that right away.
The difficulties that some Americans have with health-care reform tell us more about American hostility to government than it does about health care in general. But the debate in the United States highlights an underlying issue that will worry almost every developed country in 2010 and beyond: the struggle to control health-care costs.
Health care now accounts for about one dollar in every six of all US spending – private as well as public – and is on track to double by 2035. That is a greater share than in anywhere else in the world, but rising health-care costs are also a problem in countries that spend far less.
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China’s success in the next five years will depend largely on how well the government manages the tensions underlying its complex agenda. In particular, China’s leaders will need to balance a muscular Communist Party, setting standards and protecting the public interest, with an empowered market, driving the economy into the future.
The preference of some countries to isolate themselves within their borders is anachronistic and self-defeating, but it would be a serious mistake for others, fearing contagion, to respond by imposing strict isolation. Even in states that have succumbed to reductionist discourses, much of the population has not.
When the Bretton Woods Agreement was hashed out in 1944, it was agreed that countries with current-account deficits should be able to limit temporarily purchases of goods from countries running surpluses. In the ensuing 73 years, the so-called "scarce-currency clause" has been largely forgotten; but it may be time to bring it back.
Republican leaders have a choice: they can either continue to collaborate with President Donald Trump, thereby courting disaster, or they can renounce him, finally putting their country’s democracy ahead of loyalty to their party tribe. They are hardly the first politicians to face such a decision.
As the global economic recovery strengthens, and central banks move to raise interest rates, they need to improve their communication with the general public. To do that, they should follow the trail blazed by Donald Trump.
With talks on the UK's withdrawal from the EU stalled, negotiators should shift to the temporary “transition” Prime Minister Theresa May officially requested last month. Above all, the negotiators should focus immediately on the British budget contributions that will be required to make an orderly transition possible.
In recent decades, as President Vladimir Putin has entrenched his authority, Russia has seemed to be moving backward socially and economically. But while the Kremlin knows that it must reverse this trajectory, genuine reform would be incompatible with the kleptocratic character of Putin’s regime.
As a part of their efforts to roll back the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, congressional Republicans have approved a measure that would have courts, rather than regulators, oversee megabank bankruptcies. It is now up to the Trump administration to decide if it wants to set the stage for a repeat of the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008.