Friday, March 19, 2010

Balancing CBO Health Care Numbers

CBO Director Doug Elmendorf warned Congress that the continual pressure and the around the clock work is burning the staff out. He spoke of his concern that
though he was obligated to release the numbers, he was not able to "thoroughly examine the legislative language." He referred to the numbers as a "preliminary estimate." Speaker Pelosi and President Obama, along with others in the Democratic party supporting the massive new entitlement, embraced the report without any such warnings or disclaimers. Their goal was to simply keep the estimate under $1 trillion. That was the magic number.

This number was attained through much skillful political maneuvering. Maneuvering of the Chicago machine kind. Big giveaways were doled out as one after another politician agreed to be bought off for an affirmative vote. This is common on big legislation in our nation's capitol. The difference is that this time it is for a huge new entitlement that will affect 1/6 of our national economy. This time the American people have awoken from a long slumber and said no, enough is enough. And, of course, there is the irony that this administration was to be the one to bring all the hope and change to the people.

As The Wall Street Journal wrote today, "By the way, to make the deficit numbers "work", Democrats decided at the 11th hour to increase their new tax on investment income to 3.8% from 2.9%. Congratulations." What do you think that might do to a recovering economy and Wall Street investors?

The Washington Post expresses some hesitation in endorsing the numbers, too. The article points to the sheer size of the legislation that prohibits steadfast projections in the numbers.

Here's the link to the WaPo article:

"But perhaps the biggest risk that could cause the budget impact to diverge from the CBO estimates comes from Congress. The estimates assume that the legislation plays out as written over the coming decade, which would mean reining in the growth of payments to doctors and hospitals and implementing a tax on high-cost health insurance plans."

The only constant in Congress is change. Change in leadership, change in majority, change in the pulse of the nation. Trying to predict the numbers of this monstrosity so far out is completely unrealistic. While the Democrats want to latch on to the news of the CBO report as justification of their push forward, the numbers clearly are tentative and to claim otherwise is dishonest. refers to the data entered to reach the number sought after by the Democratic leadership as "garbage in, garbage out." There is a reference to the Cato Institutes's Michael Cannon who said, "the on-budget costs of the legislation probably account for only 40% of the total costs."

And, what will it do to the State of Texas? In a statement released by The Honorable Arlene Wohlgemuth, Texas Public Policy Foundation Executive Director, "Passage of the Senate bill would increase Texans' health insurance premiums by 61% over the next five years. Passage of the Senate bill would increase Texas' Medicaid population by 50 percent and Texas' budget deficit by several billion dollars. Passage of the Senate bill could expose Texas medical providers t more than 20 new types of medical malpractice lawsuits and pre-empt the tort reforms approved by Texas voters. All of this means that Texans' health care costs would go up, while our access to quality health care would go down."

The American people know this is smoke and mirrors time. Only the most strident of Obama supporters are in agreement on this vote. It is being billed as saving the Obama presidency. We have moved from health care/insurance reform to legacy building. This is bad legislation, bad politics and bad leadership. It is time to stop.

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