Reflex: October 27, 2011

Pauline Chen writes about teaching doctors to be mindful in today’s NYT. She reports about a conference teaching doctors to meditate. “There has been a growing awareness among doctors that being mindful, or fully present and attentive to the moment, not only improves the way they engage with patients but also mitigates the stresses of clinical practice.” Aaron’s Comment: I don’t doubt this could be true. It also could have a side benefit of reducing their malpractice risk.

David Rogers and Jake Sherman report the Supercommittee is far apart on two plans floated yesterday. The Democratic plan includes spending cuts/benefit changes and tax increases, while the Republican plan excludes tax increases. One complicating factor for both sides is CBO saying they will only credit $440 Billion in savings from the wind down of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Don’s comment: They have seemed on track for no deal and the automatic cuts taking place for awhile, though the chairs were still making nice even as these plans leaked out. One thing that caught my eye was Sen. Baucus apparently floating/advocating for the Democratic plan, since he was the only Senator (of 6) on the President’s fiscal commission to vote no on the final package. Could signal some movement. We will never have a balanced budget again without an increase in taxes and a decrease in spending over planned levels.  I have written a short book called Balancing the Budget is a Progressive Priority that gives my personal version of what the Supercommittee should do.

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