The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

No Worries

Commentary and news on Obamacare has gone quiet in recent months. You'd think that this deeply flawed legislation was making a comeback, that administration claims of better coverage, more people insured, freedom to keep your doctor and your plan were becoming real. From a fiscal point of view, you'd think that we're seeing reduced costs, and we're on the road to medical utopia. Sadly, exactly the opposite has happened, but the Obamacare debacle is now old news, crowded off the public's radar screen by still other missteps by this administration (think: the VA scandal or more recently, the Bowe Bergdahl affair).

Among the many lies that were told to sell Obamacare, one of the most egregious was "it will save the taxpayers money." Common sense indicated that the addition of 30 million to the insurance rolls, most of them subsidized or provided with "free" (read: taxpayer funded) insurance could never save money. As an aside, there's little evidence that the total number of uninsured has changed.

Now the The Fiscal Times reports:
One of the Obama administration's major selling points in passing the Affordable Care Act in 2010 was a Congressional Budget Office forecast that the controversial legislation would reduce the deficit by more than $120 billion over the coming decade.

The CBO has consistently projected that President Obama's overhaul will reduce the deficit, and the agency estimated that the Republicans’ 2011 effort to repeal the legislation would increase deficits by $210 billion from 2010 to 2021.

In April, the agency quietly signaled that it can no longer make that projection; that the law had been changed and delayed so much that there is no longer a credible way to estimate the long-term effects on the deficit of all elements of the program taken together.

In a little noticed footnote to a report updating estimates of the effects of the insurance coverage provisions of the law, the agency headed by Douglas Elmendorf acknowledged that neither CBO nor the Joint Committee on Taxation could determine precisely how scores of provisions other than the insurance coverage would impact long term government spending.

“CBO and JCT can no longer determine exactly how the provisions of the ACA that are not related to the expansion of health insurance coverage have affected their projections of direct spending and revenues,” the CBO wrote. “The provisions that expanded coverage established entirely new programs or components of programs that can be isolated and reassessed. Isolating the incremental effects of those provisions on previously existing programs and revenues four years after enactment of the ACP is not possible.”
Hmmm. Seems that this always happens with big government entitlements. They always are projected to save money—a progressive fantasy. But when reality kicks in, they do what big entitlements always do, cost us big bucks. This would be okay, if we weren't almost $18 trillion in debt, but it's the road to ruin in the present day fiscal environment.

No worries, say the big government types, we'll just print more dollars. Oops, we're already doing just that (think: quantitative easing) to the tune of $55 billion every month. Some day that bill will come due and the result will be high inflation, skyrocketing tax rates which will precipitate slow economic activity, and ultimately cuts to programs that the big government types hold dear. Worse, it will hurt the very people that big government types claim to care so much about.

But no worries. Fantasy always wins out, doesn't it?