It's little more than a year now since Obama was elected. Plenty of time for the not so well informed public to forget the principles Obama campaigned on and the promises he made. Even as he repeated his "eight principles" in his budget message in February, he is set on a course that will violate nearly every one of them.
By now it should be painfully clear to all but the most diehard Obamaton that the current "reforms" violate every principle and promise Obama made to the American people regarding health care reform. The bills were negotiated in secret among Democrats. They won't cover all uninsured Americans. Instead of lowering health care premiums the costs will increase. The bills are not "deficit neutral" but are actually the worst form of budget busters filled with the sort of gimmicks and secret deals Obama campaigned against. Millions of Americans will be forced onto the government plan and fined or get jail time if they do not enroll. And despite every promise Obama made during the campaing, taxes on those earning less than $250,000 will go up.
Finally, this message has begun to seep into the consciousness of the greater, often ambivalent, American public:
A budget-buster in the makingBroder makes an excellent point. Has Congress ever followed through with difficult cuts to control costs? Or should we expect the same huge cost overruns from Obama Care that we got from Medicare and most other federal programs? (see chart at right)
By David S. Broder
Sunday, November 22, 2009
It's simply not true that America is ambivalent about everything when it comes to the Obama health plan.
The day after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) gave its qualified blessing to the version of health reform produced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Quinnipiac University poll of a national cross section of voters reported its latest results.
This poll may not be as famous as some others, but I know the care and professionalism of the people who run it, and one question was particularly interesting to me.
It read: "President Obama has pledged that health insurance reform will not add to our federal budget deficit over the next decade. Do you think that President Obama will be able to keep his promise or do you think that any health care plan that Congress passes and President Obama signs will add to the federal budget deficit?"
The answer: Less than one-fifth of the voters -- 19 percent of the sample -- think he will keep his word. Nine of 10 Republicans and eight of 10 independents said that whatever passes will add to the torrent of red ink. By a margin of four to three, even Democrats agreed this is likely.
That fear contributed directly to the fact that, by a 16-point margin, the majority in this poll said they oppose the legislation moving through Congress.
While the CBO said that both the House-passed bill and the one Reid has drafted meet Obama's test by being budget-neutral, every expert I have talked to says that the public has it right. These bills, as they stand, are budget-busters.
[F]ormer CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin amplif[ies] the point with specific examples and biting language. Holtz-Eakin cites a long list of Democratic-sponsored "budget gimmicks" that made it possible for the CBO to estimate that Reid's bill would reduce federal deficits by $130 billion by 2019.
Perhaps the biggest of those maneuvers was Reid's decision to postpone the start of subsidies to help the uninsured buy policies from mid-2013 to January 2014 -- long after taxes and fees levied by the bill would have begun.
Even with that change, there is plenty in the CBO report to suggest that the promised budget savings may not materialize. If you read deep enough, you will find that under the Senate bill, "federal outlays for health care would increase during the 2010-2019 period" -- not decline. The gross increase would be almost $1 trillion -- $848 billion, to be exact, mainly to subsidize the uninsured. The net increase would be $160 billion.
But this depends on two big gambles. Will future Congresses actually impose the assumed $420 billion in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other federal health programs? They never have.
And will this Congress enact the excise tax on high-premium insurance policies (the so-called Cadillac plans) in Reid's bill? Obama has never endorsed them, and House Democrats -- reacting to union pressure -- turned them down in favor of a surtax on millionaires' income.
The challenge to Congress -- and to Obama -- remains the same: Make the promised savings real, and don't pass along unfunded programs to our children and grandchildren.
Reforms Make Health Care WORSE, Not Better!
Underneath all the talk of "reform" the bills in both the House and Senate devote thousands of pages to creating new federal agencies and layers of bureaucracy that have little to do with improving Americans health care system and everything to do with political power and controlling the lives of Americans.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Jeffrey Flier, Dean of Harvard Medical School describes the consequences of the current Democrat legislation:
In discussions with dozens of health-care leaders and economists, I find near unanimity of opinion that, whatever its shape, the final legislation that will emerge from Congress will markedly accelerate national health-care spending rather than restrain it. Likewise, nearly all agree that the legislation would do little or nothing to improve quality or change health-care's dysfunctional delivery system. The system we have now promotes fragmented care and makes it more difficult than it should be to assess outcomes and patient satisfaction. The true costs of health care are disguised, competition based on price and quality are almost impossible, and patients lose their ability to be the ultimate judges of value.In short, the current bills before Congress are bad medicine for the American people and even worse fiscal policy. The Senate can put a stop to this nightmare before it's too late if they vote to block the senate bill from a vote!
Worse, currently proposed federal legislation would undermine any potential for real innovation in insurance and the provision of care. It would do so by overregulating the health-care system in the service of special interests such as insurance companies, hospitals, professional organizations and pharmaceutical companies, rather than the patients who should be our primary concern.
In effect, while the legislation would enhance access to insurance, the trade-off would be an accelerated crisis of health-care costs and perpetuation of the current dysfunctional system—now with many more participants. This will make an eventual solution even more difficult. Ultimately, our capacity to innovate and develop new therapies would suffer most of all.