As Heritage analysts have noted time and again, spending from congressional liberals’ health care proposals would be in the trillions, growing the federal deficit. The President has proposed a modification of the Senate bill with provisions that would make it even more expensive. At last week’s Health Care Summit, hosted by the White House, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) echoed these same concerns over the true cost of the President’s proposal for health care reform. Thus far, neither the President nor the leaders of Congress- not one- have responded to Ryan’s indictment:
- Budget Gimmicks Galore: “[W]hat has been placed in front of [CBO] is a bill that is full of gimmicks and smoke-and-mirrors…first off, the bill has 10 years of tax increases, about half a trillion dollars, with 10 years of Medicare cuts, about half a trillion dollars, to pay for six years of spending…Now, what’s the true 10-year cost of this bill in 10 years? That’s $2.3 trillion.”
- Double-Counted Savings: “It takes $52 billion in higher Social Security tax revenues and counts them as offsets. But that’s really reserved for Social Security. So either we’re double-counting them or we don’t intend on paying those Social Security benefits…It takes $72 billion and claims money from the CLASS Act. That’s the long-term care insurance program. It takes the money from premiums that are designed for that benefit and instead counts them as offsets.” Later, Rep. Ryan went on to point out, “You can’t say that you’re using this money to either extend Medicare solvency and also offset the cost of this new program. That’s double counting.”
- Medicare as a Piggy Bank: “Now, when you take a look at the Medicare cuts, what this bill essentially does — it treats Medicare like a piggy bank. It raids a half a trillion dollars out of Medicare, not to shore up Medicare solvency, but to spend on this new government program…Now, when you take a look at what this does…as much as 20 percent of Medicare’s providers will either go out of business or will have to stop seeing Medicare beneficiaries.”
- Ignoring the Doc Fix: “…[T]he doc fix, according to your numbers, costs $371 billion. It was in the first iteration of all of these bills, but because it was a big price tag and it made the score look bad, made it look like a deficit, that bill was — that provision was taken out, and it’s been going on in stand-alone legislation. But ignoring these costs does not remove them from the backs of taxpayers. Hiding spending does not reduce spending.”
Rep. Ryan’s arguments are reinforced by Heritage research regarding the true cost of the House and Senate health bills and other reliable sources. As an article in the Wall Street Journal points out, “No one in the political class has even tried to refute Mr. Ryan’s arguments, though he made them directly to the President and his allies, no doubt because they are irrefutable. If Democrats are willing to ignore overwhelming public opposition to Obamacare and pass it anyway, then what’s a trifling dispute over a couple of trillion dollars?”
The President and congressional Democrats have recently made quite a show of concern over the sustainability of current levels of federal spending. Ignoring the fiscal reality of their health proposals questions the seriousness of their intentions to control spending and reduce the federal deficit. The prosecution rests.