Cheerleading for his administration’s economic performance yesterday, President Barack Obama said:
I absolutely agree that our long-term deficit is a major problem that we have to fix. … As I will discuss in a moment, the key to dealing with our deficit and debt is to get a handle on out-of-control health care costs
Fixing our health care system will certainly require resources, but in my budget, we’ve made a commitment to fully pay for reform without increasing the deficit, and we’ve identified specific savings that will make the health care system more efficient and reduce costs for us all.
Nothing will be more important to this goal than passing health care reform that brings down costs across the system, including in Medicare and Medicaid. Make no mistake: health care reform is entitlement reform.
The Washington Post was not terribly impressed with President Obama’s tough health care talk:
But that is the one area where Mr. Obama in fact seems to lack all seriousness — where the candor and courage go missing. Many of the savings identified in the president’s budget are phony, and the real ones are used to offset the costs of his new spending increases or tax cuts. He maintained yesterday that “health care reform is entitlement reform.” But the health-care savings he has identified are all directed to new health-care spending, and, even then, they cover only a fraction of the likely costs of a health-care bill — of what would become yet another entitlement program. Meanwhile, the keys to fixing Social Security are well known and far easier than health-care reform, but Mr. Obama yesterday deferred that challenge to some vanishing point on the horizon.
The Post’s criticsm of Obama’s health care rhetoric is dead on. His budget spends $634 billion for a “downpayment” on health care reform. His budget stresses “additional funding will be needed.” The total cost of the health care reform is unknown. Some estimates put it closer to $1.5 trillion. But if past experience is any sign, the actual cost will far exceed original government projections. Only in Washington does spending more mean saving taxpayer money.
If the President is serious about entitlement reform, the savings his budget purposes for Medicare and Medicaid would be redirected back into those programs to restore their solvency rather than spending those savings on expanding coverage to other programs. Medicare and Medicaid are giant entitlements, imposing enormous financial burdens on current and future generations.