Washington Post business columnist Steve Pearlstein writes about opponents of Obamacare today:
They’ve become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems.
And just what is the “anything” these “terrorists” are saying about health care?
There is no credible way to look at what has been proposed by the president or any congressional committee and conclude that these will result in a government takeover of the health-care system. That is a flat-out lie whose only purpose is to scare the public and stop political conversation.
A flat-out lie? Has Pearlstein seen the video of Nobel Prize-winning New York Times columnist Paul Krugman saying: “The only reason not to do [single-payer] is that politically it’s hard to do in one step … whereas something that lets people keep the insurance they have but then offers the option of a public plan, that may evolve into single-payer.” Or video of fellow Washington Post employee Ezra Klein saying about public plan supporters: “They have a sneaky strategy, the point of which is to put in place something that over time the natural incentives within its own market will move it to single-payer.” Or video of Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) saying a good public option “is the best way to reach single-payer.” Or video of Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) saying: “A public option will put the private insurance industry out of business and lead to single-payer.” Is Pearlstein saying all these people are terrorists?
Pearlstein does later try to address the issue, writing:
There is still a vigorous debate as to whether one of the insurance options offered through those exchanges would be a government-run insurance company of some sort. There are now less-than-even odds that such a public option will survive in the Senate, while even House leaders have agreed that the public plan won’t be able to piggy-back on Medicare. So the probability that a public-run insurance plan is about to drive every private insurer out of business — the Republican nightmare scenario — is approximately zero.
Oh, really? Just this month, when White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel even hinted that the White House may compromise on the public plan, President Barack Obama corrected him from Russia: “Within hours, the chief of staff was big-footed – all the way from Moscow — by his boss, Mr. Obama, who is in Russia prior to the meeting of the ‘Group of Eight’ economic powers. The White House issued an official statement declaring that Mr. Obama remains committed to the public option.”
Next Pearlstein goes on to attack Congress’ entire budgeting process:
By now, you’ve probably also heard that health reform will cost taxpayers at least a trillion dollars. Another lie.
First of all, that’s not a trillion every year, as most people assume — it’s a trillion over 10 years, which is the silly way that people in Washington talk about federal budgets. On an annual basis, that translates to about $140 billion, when things are up and running.
Just because the Congressional Budget Office scores the budget impacts of congressional legislation over ten-year time frames does not make them liars. But more importantly, it is the architects of Obamacare who are gaming the ten-year CBO window to make the deficit-busting impact of their legislation seem as small as possible. The chart below demonstrates how the House bill slow-walks the spending side of the health plan to make the price tag as low as possible. Pearlstein plays along with their charade audaciously claiming that the bill costs “translates to about $140 billion” annually.
As you can see, the real spending does not even begin until 2013, and by 2019, it comes to $245 billion a year. That is over $100 billion a year more than Pearlstein tries to claim. Commenting on the out year impacts of the House plan, CBO director Doug Elmendorf told Congress:
The net cost of the coverage provisions would be growing at a rate of more than 8 percent per year in nominal terms between 2017 and 2019; we would anticipate a similar trend in the subsequent decade. … Revenue from the surcharge on high-income individuals would be growing at about 5 percent per year in nominal terms between 2017 and 2019; that component would continue to grow at a slower rate than the cost of the coverage expansion in the following decade. … In sum, relative to current law, the proposal would probably generate substantial increases in federal budget deficits during the decade beyond the current 10-year budget window.
Does Pearlstein believe Doug Elmendorf is a terrorist too?