The White House Council of of Economic Advisors is set to release a report this morning showing that slowing the growth of health care spending from 6% a year to 4.5% a year could create 500,000 jobs a year and increase the income of the typical American family of four by $2,600 by 2020. CEA Chair Christina Romer told The Hill yesterday: “If we don’t do this, we’re going to be facing a huge mess in 30 years. The nightmare scenario is getting closer.”
She’s half right. Doing nothing about runaway government spending on Medicare and Medicaid will put the federal government’s credit rating at grave risk. But for all the Obama administration’s talk about controlling health care spending, the report they are releasing today does nothing to address that problem. The Washington Post reports: “The report contains few details about how those ambitious goals would be achieved, however, and does not address any increased federal spending needed to implement health reform.”
Similarly, the health care savings President Obama touted from six major health care organizations last month are also quickly proving ephemeral. Yesterday those same organizations submitted their 28-page plan to the White House, claiming to identify $2 trillion in savings over 10 years. But Boston University health policy professor Alan Sager tells the Post: “This is a compilation of resolutions to do better. It is not a listing of forces or changes in behavior that will save money.”
Even when the Obama administration has identified policies they claim will reduce health care costs, independent budget experts have been highly skeptical. Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf recently testified to the House of Representatives that many of the administration’s cost savings measures are not only unlikely to reduce costs, but could potentially even increase them.
To get around the CBO’s reality based skepticism of Obama’s cost savings claims, liberals in Congress are advocating vesting even more health care decision-making authority in the federal bureaucracy. Add on their plans for an individual mandate to purchase a government-approved package of benefits and a government run health insurance option and their intent is clear: Washington control over health care financing and delivery. It would result in a massive one-size-fits-all government system, and it would depend on flawed financing schemes, new mandates, and higher taxes to pay for it.
There is an alternative. Unlike the White House, conservatives in Congress have already released a detailed health care reform package. One that introduces market forces into health care by ending the current inequitable and regressive tax treatment of employer-based coverage and expands health insurance options by allowing the states to enact their own reforms. Reviewing the competing visions for health care reform, USA Today reports: “For all those who say the Republican Party is out of ideas, on the issue of health coverage, at least, its proposal is bolder than what the Democrats have offered an asset given the scale of the problem.”
- According to USA Today, the sale of General Motors to the Obama administration is “a risky play for the economy” that “if it comes apart” could “drag the economy into a deeper recession.”
- The Obama administration’s bailout of Citigroup might also end up with the federal government owning a “substantial” stake in the bank.
- The White House continues to refuse to release the cost of President Obama’s “date night” to New York City. Private estimates range from $24,000 to $250,000.
- Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that if rogue state capabilities develop faster or in a more worrisome way than anybody anticipates, he may ask for more missile defense funding next year.
- The Levin-McCain Defense Acquisition Reform Bill signed last week will will inhibit rather than improve the Pentagon’s ability to buy things efficiently.