If you believe that a new health-care entitlement saves money, you’ll believe anything

The accounting gimmicks are legion, but we’ll pick out a few: It uses 10 years of taxes to fund six years of subsidies. Social Security and Medicare revenues are double-counted to the tune of $398 billion. A new program funding long-term care frontloads taxes but backloads spending, gradually going broke by design. The law pretends that Congress will spend less on Medicare than it really will, in particular through an automatic 25% cut to physician payments that Democrats have already voted not to allow for this year.

The CBO budget gnomes are required to “score” what’s on paper in front of them, no matter how unrealistic, and that’s the method its Congressional masters prefer. The political class makes believe that CBO’s forecasts are carved into stone tablets through divine revelation, but all they really show is that politicians have rigged the budget rules to hide the true cost of entitlements…

But our core appeal isn’t to this technical detail or that underlying assumption. It’s to common sense. Amid the repeal debate, Democrats and the media are behaving as if they have no knowledge of Congress’s habits or the history of government health-care programs over the last half-century. Entitlements are always sold as modest and “paid for,” then years later everyone suddenly discovers that they are “unaffordable” without digging deeper into the pockets of the middle class. How do you think Medicare and Medicaid got to their current pass?