According to the Associated Press, at the direction of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Senate Democrats are plotting to pass a bill, by as early as next week, that grants doctors a $247 billion increase in Medicare fees over a decade. This will no doubt add to the deficit. Why are the Democrats so intent on spending $247 billion in one week? To pave the way for the White House to claim that Obamacare is deficit neutral.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Democratic Leadership are meeting, as you read this, behind closed doors with White House staff . They are trying to cut and paste the complex provisions of the Senate Finance Committee health bill (the Baucus Bill) and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions bill ( the Kennedy-Dodd bill). They want to produce an overhaul of one sixth of the economy under federal control that is somehow coherent and yet not add “one dime,” as President solemnly promised, to the deficit.
The Senate leaders know that when they cobble all of this together they are going to have a big problem making the numbers come out right. So, fellow citizens, they are contemplating a classic shell game: Hide the increased spending under the shell of different bills. For example, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) is proposing separate legislation (S.1776) that would repeal the Medicare payment update formula (one of the more bizarre Congressional administrative pricing creations), and the result would be a $247 billion increase Medicare spending by $247 billion. For the Senate leaders, it’s a neat little way around the public appearance of aggravating the already enormous “deficit problem” They raise ten year health spending by $247 billion, but keep it out of the Senate health bill. That way, they’ll be able to claim, with sort of a straight face, that the Senate’s final product, crammed with additional spending, is still “deficit neutral.”
It’s like maxing out on the company credit card. Then, to show the accountants that one is not running up debt on the card, one simply goes out and buys a new credit card. Then, continue to run up more debt on the new one. How convenient.