When President Obama spoke to Congress on his health care plan, I was thinking about the 16-day stretch in July during which his bill was being assembled on Capitol Hill. That’s because so much of what he told us, whether about deficits, illegal aliens or abortions, seemed at odds with what the Congress is doing in his name.
“I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future,” the president said. He was unequivocal, and I applaud his promise, but the Congressional Budget Office reports that the Obama health care bill making its way through the House, H.R. 3200, will add $220 billion to the U.S. budget deficits over 10 years. A new report issued on Sept. 9 by the Peterson Foundation found that it will create an additional $1 trillion in deficit spending between 2020 and 2029.
The conclusion? The president says he won’t sign anything with a deficit, but record-breaking federal budget deficits form a prominent, permanent part of his party’s health care plan, so we’ll see.
The president also said that “not a dollar of the Medicare Trust Fund will be used to pay for this proposal.” What the House is doing is rather different. H.R. 3200 cuts $400 billion from the Medicare program to finance this new proposal. A Republican amendment directing that any savings to the Medicare program be used solely to improve the access and affordability within Medicare was defeated with just one Democrat voting for it.
So it’s hard not to conclude that contrary to what the president said he wants, many Medicare dollars will be used to pay for the Obama health care program.
Similarly, the president promised straightforwardly that “if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, Medicare, Medicaid or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or doctor you have.”
Analysts at the Lewin Group, however, estimate that 80 million people would lose their employer-sponsored health insurance under the House bill. The amendment ensuring that existing health plans continue to provide coverage to their enrollees was defeated along party lines, with only three Democrats voting to make certain that people can keep their existing coverage.
Again, the president’s comforting words are unsupported by his party’s actions in Congress. If their bill passed today, the only thing saying you won’t see a doctor you like or insurance coverage you want to keep is a line in a speech.
Much the same is true with illegal aliens: “The reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally,” President Obama says. Yes, the House bill contains no provision where people would have to demonstrate whether they were here legally in order to sign up for government-run health care. And yes, the president’s party voted down the amendment to require that applicants for the welfare program, Medicaid, actually verify their citizenship.
The statements of any politician, no matter how prominent, have no force of law their own and, once again, this statement by the president is unsupported by any provision of his health care legislation.
Finally, the president told us that, “under our bill, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions.” In fact, the bipartisan amendment to his bill which would have barred taxpayer dollars from subsidizing abortions failed when every Republican, but too few Democrats, supported it. The inescapable conclusion is that taxpayer-funded abortions are not disallowed.
President Obama has made some forthright and specific promises about what his health care package will and will not do, but simply saying so doesn’t make it so. He has a big job ahead convincing his congressional supporters to match their actions to his stirring words. I hope he succeeds, and I’m ready to help him.
The views expressed by guest bloggers on the Foundry do not necessarily reflect the views of the Heritage Foundation.