In a column for the Times Union in 2010, I wrote the following about the Obama healthcare bill that then-Congressman Scott Murphy was pitching as ‘fiscally conservative’.
Associating conservatism with a law that will hijack roughly a sixth of the U.S. economy can only be explained by political naivete and a reliance on the Congressional Budget Office’s mathematical wizardry to surmise that the legislation will reduce the deficit by $138 billion.
There were two reasons that the CBO numbers were absurdly misleading:
First, the CBO is required to take the written word in the bill before it at face value. For example, the law includes a $463 billion cut in Medicare, an impossible feat for a program already hemorrhaging red ink. Because this amount is in the law, it is assumed to be true for the sake of the CBO report. This is the equivalent of setting up a personal budget and including a winning lottery ticket in the bottom line. Yes, it puts that Florida vacation within reach, but no, it’s not going to happen. The CBO report emphasizes that its findings were preliminary and did not reflect the actual bill that would pass.
Second, former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, in a March 20 New York Times commentary, offered a peek at the shell game being played by his former agency and the Obama administration:
“In reality, if you strip out all the gimmicks and budgetary games and rework the calculus, a wholly different picture emerges: The health care reform legislation would raise, not lower, federal deficits, by $562 billion.”
And now, the curtain is being pulled back on those CBO calculations from two years ago, and there really is no great wizard being revealed. In fact, the opposing disappointment is epic, as the cost of Obamacare is now being estimated at nearly twice the original amount.
Via Beltway Confidential:
President Obama’s national health care law will cost $1.76 trillion over a decade, according to a new projection released today by the Congressional Budget Office, rather than the $940 billion forecast when it was signed into law.
Democrats employed many accounting tricks when they were pushing through the national health care legislation, the most egregious of which was to delay full implementation of the law until 2014, so it would appear cheaper under the CBO’s standard ten-year budget window and, at least on paper, meet Obama’s pledge that the legislation would cost “around $900 billion over 10 years.” When the final CBO score came out before passage, critics noted that the true 10 year cost would be far higher than advertised once projections accounted for full implementation.
Today, the CBO released new projections from 2013 extending through 2022, and the results are as critics expected: the ten-year cost of the law’s core provisions to expand health insurance coverage has now ballooned to $1.76 trillion. That’s because we now have estimates for Obamacare’s first nine years of full implementation, rather than the mere six when it was signed into law. Only next year will we get a true ten-year cost estimate, if the law isn’t overturned by the Supreme Court or repealed by then. Given that in 2022, the last year available, the gross cost of the coverage expansions are $265 billion, we’re likely looking at about $2 trillion over the first decade, or more than double what Obama advertised.
But hey, we can afford that kind of miscalculation right? Surely it would have passed if voters knew the real cost, right?
Obamacare and Obamanomics – just a shell game, and we’re the losers.