As if the White House hadn’t heard enough from Doug Elmendorf and the CBO this week. Their new analysis shows that the House version of ObamaCare not only is not deficit neutral, but the actual hit to the federal deficit for this program alone exceeds $239 billion over the next decade. Democrats immediately pledged to address it — by finding new ways to cook the books:
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office dealt another blow to House Democrats on Friday night, saying their health care bill would increase the federal deficit by $239 billion over the next 10 years.
The projected shortfall means Democrats would need to find additional revenue or make deeper cuts to existing programs in order to meet their goal of paying for the $1 trillion bill.
But those projections don’t account for a $245 billion reduction in the deficit this legislation would create, if Democrats can also approve new balanced budget rules that would permanently address an annual shortfall in Medicare payments to physicians[.] Democrats may also defend the cost of their bill by pointing out that in the long run, under new accounting rules, the bill would generate a $6 billion surplus.
Do these new rules cut expenditures by $245 billion over the next ten years? No. In fact, their new rules allow Medicare to pay doctors more for their services, increasing expenditures. They just don’t have to show that on the books:
In the bill, Democrats provide $245 billion to eliminate an annual shortfall in payments to doctors under Medicare. Democrats resolved this annual headache, in large part, to win crucial support for the bill from the American Medical Association. That money currently counts against the overall costs of the bill, but Democrats have introduced legislation that would remove this obligation from federal deficit. However, CBO won’t recognize that change until those new pay-as-you-go rules become law.
Got that? The Democrats want to spend the $245 billion but just not have it count in the checkbook. I used to try these “accounting rules” with my first bank, although I did it accidentally. They invited me to abide by their accounting rules or find another bank. The money gets spent, but the Democrats don’t have to be held accountable for running the deficit any farther up than they’re already doing. It’s a shell game, and nothing more.
Small wonder, then, that Barack Obama himself made a surprise appearance late yesterday afternoon, when most reporters expect nothing more than the standard document dump. Andrew Malcolm explains why Obama needed to make a personal appearance, and to schedule a prime-time press conference for Wednesday night:
Friday afternoons and evenings — as we’ve mentioned here previously — are usually a dumping ground for political news its originators do not want noticed much. Especially entering warm summer weekends.
The flip side of that adage is that there’s rarely much competition for the news at those times. Tah-dah! Not by accident today President Barack Obama (despite the shattering death of his beloved teleprompter earlier this week) staged an unscheduled media availability to insert himself into the news.
Not much competition, so he got lots of coverage. And since he walked out afterward without taking any questions, there was no chance of anything else detracting from the message he wanted to insert: Healthcare now!
The president knows his keystone program is in deep trouble and losing momentum. That’s why his organization is sending out all those e-mails and organizing local discussion groups to mobilize grassroots support and why he drags the subject into everything he talks about. Why he even dragged it into a speech Thursday night celebrating the NAACP’s centennial. And he’ll no doubt focus on the same subject in his weekly address tomorrow (Text here as always at 3 a.m. Pacific Saturday).
“Now is not the time to slow down,” he pleads.
Which sounds much like winter’s successful argument for urgent passage of the economic stimulus bill, whose benefits have yet to appear. We gotta do this now doesn’t always work the second time around.
The “fierce urgency of now” doesn’t play well once you’ve blown the first “now” into “you’ll see the benefits in 18 months.” With the CBO continuing to shine the light on the deep hole ObamaCare represents, Obama needs to get it done now or watch as it founders in its own sea of red ink.