The Democrats were crowing yesterday that their latest version of health care reform - the senate bill passed Christmas eve plus the reconciliation fixes the House wants to send along to the senate - came in at a "cost" of $940 billion, with "savings" to the budget of $138 billion and a 20 year deficit reduction overall of $2.1 trillion.
That sounds - well, not impressive when you think about it as I point out in my PJ Media column:
The reason I have "cost" and "savings" in quotes is because the numbers are based on premises that only Lewis Carroll could love. For it appears that the CBO made a trip to Wonderland in order to come up with "costs" and "savings" that bear such little semblance to reality.
It's been known for many months that the cost of the health care bill has been phoney baloney budgetary gimmicks. Most of the costs of the bill won't kick in until 2013, while the bulk of the costs would be picked up in the next six years. A true cost of this bill over the first ten years (2013-2023) is well into the trillions of dollars.
CBO makes no apologies for basing their projections on what they acknowledge is tomfoolery. Nor do they seem to see it as their job to highlight this legislative legerdemain.
I guess that's why they're "non-partisan." They cooperate in hoodwinking the American people with both parties.
Also, it is bizarre that Democrats would cheer a savings to the government of $138 billion over a decade when the CBO estimated last August that the cumulative deficit over that same period is going to be $7.1 trillion.
Not a very big dent in the monster, wouldn't you say?
Indeed, as Jeffrey Anderson of the Weekly Standard points out, the actual number the CBO gives for Obamacare over the decade 2013-2023 - the first 10 years the entire plan is enacted - comes to more than $2 trillion over that period:
But under strict instructions from Democratic leaders, and over strong objections from Republicans, the CBO dutifully scored 2010 as the first year of the latest version of Obamacare. If the clock were started in 2011, the first full year that the bill could possibly be in effect, the CBO says that the bill's ten-year costs would be $1.2 trillion.
But even that wouldn't come close to reflecting the bill's true costs. The CBO projects that over the next four years, less than two percent of the bill's alleged "ten year" costs would hit: just $17 billion of the $940 billion in costs that the Democrats are claiming. In fact, the costs through President Obama's entire presidency, should he be reelected, would be $336 billion. What would the president leave behind for his successor? According to the CBO, he would leave behind costs of $837 billion during his successor's first term alone. If his successor were to serve a second term, he or she would inherit a cool $2.0 trillion in Obamacare costs - about six times its costs during Obama's own tenure. This legislation is a ticking time-bomb.
To see the bill's true first-decade costs, we need to start the clock when the costs would actually start in any meaningful way: in 2014. The CBO says that Obamacare would cost $2.0 trillion in the bill's real first decade (from 2014 to 2023) - and much more in the decades to come.
On top of all this, the idea that anyone has ever come close to estimating the cost of any health care entitlement over the years is absurd, as this Washington Times article noted:
In 1965, the House Ways and Means Committee estimated that the hospital insurance program of Medicare - the federal health care program for the elderly and disabled - would cost $9 billion by 1990. The actual cost that year was $67 billion.
In 1967, the House Ways and Means Committee said the entire Medicare program would cost $12 billion in 1990. The actual cost in 1990 was $98 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.
And history has shown that the farther out the CBO tries to project, the more spectacularly inaccurate they become.
It appears that the Democrats are going to take these fake CBO numbers and try to convince reluctant congressmen that they can run on them in November.
Good luck with that.