President Barack Obama’s push for government-run health care has proceeded in three separate phases… and we’re just entering the last.
Phase One: Fantasy Football. The President’s push for health reform began in pure fantasy land. The Obama administration’s first budget was based on rosy economic assumptions that no independent, reputable economist believed at the time. Obama’s economic experts assumed the economy would only contract by 1.2% this year. As we pointed out at the time, the economy was already contracting at an annualized rate of over 5%. The Obama budget went on to assume GDP growth at a rate a full percentage higher than the Blue Chip consensus over the next four years. The Obama budget also claimed they could help pay for expanded government-run care by implementing the use of health information technology, care coordination, disease management, and “evidence based” medicine. As it has in the past, the Congressional Budget Office refused to entertain Obama’s fantasies and score these proposals as cost savings. That set up the next phase…
Phase Two: Work the Refs. The left did not give up hope that the CBO would change the rules of the game in their favor. During a Senate Finance Committee hearing, chairman Max Baucus publicly lectured CBO director Doug Elmendorf, claiming Elmendorf had a moral duty to be “creative” and deliver budget estimates favorable enough to win broad support for Obama’s plan. To his credit, Elmendorf stood his ground and told Baucus the CBO would never “adjust our views to make people happy.” The CBO has since released a scoring of the Senate HELP committee bill. In direct contradiction of President Obama’s claims, Elmendorf told the Senate that the Affordable Health Choices Act “would add to the long-term burden of spending to the federal government.”
Phase Three: Beat the Clock. Now that President Obama’s economic forecasts have been exposed as “fantasy,” he is pressing for quick passage of health reform before he is forced to acknowledge reality and issue a new budget forecast next month.
The Obama health care plan will dramatically reorganize almost a sixth of the American economy. Congress should not be rushed into decisions of this magnitude without a full debate. At the bare minimum, Congress should at least take the time to read whatever health care legislation they end up voting on. But under the current Congressional leadership, such suggestions are apparently a punchline.