If you don’t have time to watch, fear not: You’ll have plenty of opportunities in the future, as this is destined to be a staple of GOP attack ads for years to come as costs inevitably balloon. It’s almost not worth beating up on him over a bill that’s bound to mutate again and again over the next few months as amendments are added and the conference committee goes to work on it, but if Reid’s hot to play the CBO game, let’s play it. From today’s Journal, here’s Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former McCain economic advisor — and former director of CBO:
First and foremost, neither bends the health-cost curve downward. The CBO found that the House bill fails to reduce the pace of health-care spending growth. An audit of the bill by Richard Foster, chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, found that the pace of national health-care spending will increase by 2.1% over 10 years, or by about $750 billion. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s bill grows just as fast as the House version. In this way, the bills betray the basic promise of health-care reform: providing quality care at lower cost.
Second, each bill sets up a new entitlement program that grows at 8% annually as far as the eye can see—faster than the economy will grow, faster than tax revenues will grow, and just as fast as the already-broken Medicare and Medicaid programs. They also create a second new entitlement program, a federally run, long-term-care insurance plan.
Finally, the bills are fiscally dishonest, using every budget gimmick and trick in the book: Leave out inconvenient spending, back-load spending to disguise the true scale, front-load tax revenues, let inflation push up tax revenues, promise spending cuts to doctors and hospitals that have no record of materializing, and so on…
In short, any combination of what is moving through Congress is economically dangerous and invites the rapid acceleration of a debt crisis. It is a dramatic statement to financial markets that the federal government does not understand that it must get its fiscal house in order.
You’ll be pleased to know that the captain of the Titanic was off on the links today while Reid was busy steering the ship towards an iceberg. Exit question: How is it “Orwellian” to oppose opening debate on this crappy non-starter of a bill but not Orwellian to deliberately schedule the vote for a Saturday night, when the fewest number of Americans will be paying attention?