Now that we’re all back after consuming copious amounts of turkey and stuffing, the issue of Obama’s national debt and the threat of socialist-style health care still loom large. The real turkey continues to be President Obama’s economic policy coupled with his insatiable appetite to devour your personal health care rights.
A new report from the libertarian Cato Institute cuts through the congressional budgetary pranks employed by Pelosi and Reid with some startling findings.
Congressional Democrats are using several budget gimmicks to disguise the cost of their health care overhaul, claiming the House and Senate bills would cost only (!) about $1 trillion over 10 years. Now that critics have begun to correct for those budget gimmicks, supporters of ObamaCare are firing back.
One gimmick makes the new entitlement spending appear smaller by not opening the spigot until late in the official 10-year budget window (2010–2019). Correcting for that gimmick in the Senate version, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) estimates, “When all this new spending occurs” — i.e., from 2014 through 2023 — “this bill will cost $2.5 trillion over that ten-year period.”
Another gimmick pushes much of the legislation’s costs off the federal budget and onto the private sector by requiring individuals and employers to purchase health insurance. When the bills force somebody to pay $10,000 to the government, the Congressional Budget Office treats that as a tax. When the government then hands that $10,000 to private insurers, the CBO counts that as government spending. But when the bills achieve the exact same outcome by forcing somebody to pay $10,000 directly to a private insurance company, it appears nowhere in the official CBO cost estimates — neither as federal revenues nor federal spending. That’s a sharp departure from how the CBO treated similar mandates in the Clinton health plan. And it hides maybe 60 percent of the legislation’s total costs. When I correct for that gimmick, it brings total costs to roughly $2.5 trillion (i.e., $1 trillion/0.4).
Here’s where things get really ugly. TPMDC’s Brian Beutler calls “the” $2.5-trillion cost estimate a “doozy” of a “hysterical Republican whopper.” Not only is he incorrect, he doesn’t seem to realize that Gregg and I are correcting for different budget gimmicks; it’s just a coincidence that we happened to reach the same number.
When we correct for both gimmicks, counting both on- and off-budget costs over the first 10 years of implementation, the total cost of ObamaCare reaches — I’m so sorry about this — $6.25 trillion. That’s not a precise estimate. It’s just far closer to the truth than President Obama and congressional Democrats want the debate to be.
Beutler and other supporters of ObamaCare can react to this news in two ways. They can continue to deny the enormous cost of the legislation they support. Or they can question how President Obama’s health plan came to be so blessedly expensive, and how (and by whom) they were duped into thinking it wasn’t.
Considering that we know neither the Reid version or the Pelosi version of ObamaCare will actually lower health care costs or improve quality, a $6 trillion figure is staggering considering the amount of debt we’re currently incurring under President Obama. Furthermore, we will all be taxed coming and going to cover these outrageous costs in every conceivable way Barney Frank can surmise.
I am constantly disgusted to watch the same people who moaned and whined about the cost of Iraq war under President Bush wholeheartedly embrace a $6 trillion theft of wealth and personal health care rights as if it is the second coming of Christ via President Obama.
Perhaps President Obama should be concerned with retracting his failed $700 billion stimulus plan and focus on free-market solutions to let the private sector create jobs rather than working to gut one-sixth of our economy known as health care.