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Health-Care Law is Constitutional. But if Not, All Hell Breaks Loose

February 21, 2011

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  • Mark Levine January 5, 2011 1:07 pm

    Thanks for being specific. Here’s my response.

    1. If you don’t like an artificial 10-year time horizon, then do the math over 20 years. Over 20 years, it saves money any way you calculate it. Do you dispute this? I have not seen any calculus by anybody that puts the deficit-reducing benefit at less than $600 billion over 20 years. Have you?

    2. These are NEW social security taxes, based on taxing the Cadillac health care plans. They don’t add to the deficit or reduce the solvency of the existing fund.

    3. These are new moneys that are part of a VOLUNTARY long-term health care insurance plan self-supported by premimus. If you don’t think counting the $72 billion is fair, fine. There’s still more than $500 billion left in savings.

    4. Most of this — the part that’s not from the “Cadillac tax” — is from “Medicare Advantage”, not from Medicare. It comes from pharmaceutical subsidies and gym memberships and massages for healthy people. It doesn’t come from Medicare. We don’t need subsidies for rich old people to go to gyms.

    You may not like the health-reform bill. You may believe that 40 million who cannot afford health care should clog up our emergency rooms with even more expensive care (or maybe die in the streets?), nd that’s a political policy choice that you have every right to hold.

    But your original complaint was that I was wrong to say that the health-care law reduces the deficit over the long term. I stand by what I said.

    You’re right that things often cost more than they say they will initially. The Bush Wars and Bush Tax Breaks to the Rich were WAY underestimated by the Bush Administration. Heck the Bush Wars were not even put on budget and now cost over $1 trillion and the Bush tax cuts, costing several trillion dollars, are the single greatest reason we are in a deficit hole today.

    I hope you have complained vociferously to your representatives in Congress about the trillions underestimated by the Bush Wars and Tax Cuts since it’s an order of magnitude greater than the underestimates in entitlement programs that you complain of here. Have you?

    Because in comparison to those massive costs, even the massive surplus expected to be brought by health-care reform is chickenfeed (and that holds true even if the estimates turn out to be significantly off base).

    I hope, even if we disagree, you at least now know where I’m coming from. I cite facts, not “garbage.” And my facts, at least, come from a reputable, objective, partisan-neutral source. At best, all you can say is that my reputable source has been off base in the past, but you still provide no reputable, objective source of your own to suggest that health-care reform will increase the deficit.

  • Jodie January 4, 2011 10:43 am

    1. 6 years of expenses matched with 10 years of revenue
    2. $52 billion in Social Security taxes (an EXISTING bankrupt entitlement) diverted to PAY for Obamacare
    3. $72 billion from CLASS Act LTC Program diverted
    4. $500 billion from Medicare (an EXISTING bankrupt entitlement) diverted to PAY for Obamacare

    As Ryan says, “You can’t say that you’re using this money to either extend Medicare solvency and also offset the cost of this new program. That’s double counting.”

    All of these are piled on top of the simple intuitive point that NEW ENTITLEMENTS DON’T REDUCE THE DEFICIT, especially when you consider the abysmal record of Congressional predictions for our EXISTING entitlements and factor this pie-in-the-sky tendency into what they are projecting for Obamacare’s cost:

    “At its start, in 1966, Medicare cost $3 billion. The House Ways and Means Committee estimated that Medicare would cost only about $ 12 billion by 1990 (a figure that included an allowance for inflation). This was a supposedly “conservative” estimate. But in 1990 Medicare actually cost $107 billion.

    In 1987, Congress projected that Medicaid – the joint federal-state health care program for the poor – would make special relief payments to hospitals of less than $1 billion in 1992. Actual cost: $17 billion.

    The list goes on. The 1993 cost of Medicare’s home care benefit was projected in 1988 to be $4 billion, but ended up at $10 billion. The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which was created in 1997 and projected to cost $5 billion per year, has had to be supplemented with hundreds of millions of dollars annually by Congress.”

  • Mark Levine January 4, 2011 12:58 am

    I responded in the January 3, 2011 post above.

    I await your example of a single accounting gimmick in the bill that would somehow make health-care reform add to the deficit, In fact, health care reform DECREASES the deficit by more than $500 billion over twenty years.

  • Jodie January 3, 2011 9:41 pm

    Is there any way that, during your appearances on Kudlow, you can refrain from insulting the intelligence of everyone watching by parroting this garbage about the health care law REDUCING the deficit? Didn’t Paul Ryan put this charade to rest in his 5 minute shredding of this claim, listing at a minimum 3 MAJOR accounting gimmicks being used by Congress to make this claim? As Ryan pointed out, the CBO can only score what is put in front of them, not make judgments on the merits of what they are scoring. So the bill could have “paid for” itself by a provision calling for the US to invade Switzerland and confiscate all of its bank holdings and the CBO would have still scored it deficit neutral. Obama himself was speechless after Ryan snapped each of these phony-savings arguments like dry twigs one by one.

    If you want to talk about the need for an individual mandate because of the “adverse selection” problem, or say that the bills cost is worth the additional coverage that will be provided, fine…. those are at least debatable points.

    But please don’t peddle this “deficit neutral” garbage (that has long disappeared from most liberals talking points) all the while having “All the news that government does not want you to know” at the top of your webpage. Government wants you to know that the healthcare bill is deficit-neutral….. they don’t want you to know how they arrived at this claim.