Bait and Switch
3/25/13
 
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by John Goodman

It’s hard to believe almost any budget numbers coming out of Washington, D.C., these days. The reason? The Obama administration is cooking the books.

Okay, it’s not actually violating any law. But perhaps it should be against the law for the Office of Management and Budget to do what it routinely has been doing: putting out budget forecasts that everyone inside the Beltway knows are not real. If a private CPA did that, he would lose his license to practice.

Here’s the backstory. Health care spending in this country has been growing at twice the rate of growth of our income on a real, per capita basis. Although there has been modest slowing during the Great Recession, that’s been the trend for the past 40 years and the United States is not unique. Our health care spending growth rate is in the middle of the pack among developed countries.

Clearly we are on an unsustainable path.

Now even though the path is unsustainable, it is still the path we are currently on. Private health care spending, Medicare, Medicaid — the entire health care system ― is growing twice as fast as our ability to pay for its growth.

But the Obama administration, desperate to promise benefits that it knows it cannot pay for, has found a solution: making up budget numbers.

The problem begins with the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). Every time the administration talks about this new entitlement, they make it sound like it’s an enormous free lunch. Everyone in America has been promised affordable health insurance and the only people who are going to suffer are a few rich people (the top 1%).

Unwilling to raise the taxes needed to pay for this entitlement, the administration decided to fund almost half the cost by robbing Medicare. The figure is $716 billion over the next decade, but that’s just the beginning. Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare is set to grow only a tiny bit faster than the growth of national income — forever!

So let’s recap. Spending on the elderly and the disabled will be growing at one rate while the rest of the health care system will be growing at twice that rate.

One out of seven hospitals will leave Medicare in the next seven years, say the actuaries, and beyond that things just get worse and worse.

Now if the administration had been willing to come clean about all of this, I would say that’s what leadership is all about. It’s about making tough choices. Seniors will have to have less so that younger folks can have more. But that of course, is not what the president is saying. Time and again, the president, the vice president and every leading Democrat in Congress have referred to the Medicare spending reductions as “savings” that will not harm the elderly in any way.This is not leadership. This is not making tough choices. This is bait and switch.

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3/25/13: