Dick Lacouture – ObmaCare will cost us for decades to come
March 26, 2010
To the Editor:
In the face of popular opposition and without a fig leaf of bipartisanship, the massive ObamaCare bill has become law, and the campaign slogan “We Can” has now become “Just Because We Can.”
Encountering resistance in their own party and absent a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, congressional leaders could only pass the law by back-room deal-making and arm-twisting and the contravention of established procedural rules. Even the liberal Denver Post, which had supported comprehensive healthcare reform (even the more extreme public option), characterized Obamacare as a “failure,” “slick politics,” “toxic and loaded with special deals,” “propped up with misleading estimates and back room deals” “that will do little to bring down costs” and “will hurt the nation for years to come”.
Proponents will tout positives of the bill, such as requiring insurers to take on those with pre-existing conditions and eliminate benefit limits. Many are laudable, but could have been accomplished by much narrower legislation. Not mentioned will be the constitutionally suspect insurance mandate and related penalties to which all Americans are now subject, cost-increasing substantial new taxes on the healthcare industry, the last-minute increase of the Medicare payroll tax to 3.8 percent and its unprecedented extension to investment income and the creation of a huge, costly entitlement program that will weigh down this country for decades.
You will also hear claims of a $138 billion deficit reduction. This illusory number is largely the product of the clever exploitation of the Congressional Budget Office’s limitations in assessing costs, which look only at the first 10 years after passage and take legislation as given to them. Here, lawmakers front loaded the tax and revenue aspects of the bill, introducing them in the early years, and deferred the more significant cost aspects (such as the huge insurance entitlement subsidies) to later years. Also, much of the “deficit cut” derives from an unrelated student loan provision, introduced at the last minute to improve the cost calculation.
Realistically, over the longer term, however, experts expect a substantial negative impact on the deficit ranging in the trillions of dollars. This is in addition to the costs that most of us will personally experience in increased taxes and insurance.
Perhaps what most of the American people can expect from ObamaCare was best summarized, no doubt unwittingly, by the four letter word that Joe Biden whispered to the president at the signing ceremony.