Prescription: Debt

Obamacare Would Lose $65 Billion a Year

DEMOCRATIC members of Congress are now trying to decide whether they’re better off abandoning ObamaCare and inviting the administration’s wrath — or supporting it and inviting their constituents’ wrath.

If the public learns the full extent of what the Congressional Budget Office has said about ObamaCare’s effect on our deficits, these wavering representatives should have an easier time making the right choice.

The CBO assessment that the House health bill would add $239 billion to our budget deficit from 2010 to 2019 got widespread coverage. But something else escaped attention.

The CBO also found that the House bill would put us on pace for deficit spending of more than $600 billion from 2015 to 2024 — from this one bill alone.

This makes a mockery of the “Blue Dog” deal to cut the bill’s price tag by a reported $100 billion. Even if this unpublished agreement becomes part of the final bill, it would barely make a dent in the CBO projections.

The CBO reports that the House bill would raise the deficit by $239 billion over 10 years, despite a tax hike of more than $500 billion. However, because the bill wouldn’t even really kick in until 2013 — defined as Year 1 in the bill’s text — the deficits wouldn’t kick in until then, either.

But once the bill kicks in, the deficit spending would quickly follow and grow each year, the CBO notes.

As the CBO reports, in 2014 the bill would raise the deficit by $5 billion. In 2015, it would increase it by $40 billion. In 2016 and 2017, it would increase it by $58 billion. In 2018, it would increase it by $62 billion. In 2019, it would increase it by $65 billion.

At that point, the CBO stops, but the deficits wouldn’t.

So, by 2019, the bill would increase deficit spending by $65 billion a year and rising. That’s a far cry from the administration’s claim that its health-care bill would be deficit-neutral.

Even if we assume that the bill’s deficit spending would somehow level off after 2019, it would still add $65 billion to the deficit each year for the foreseeable future. Under these kind assumptions, the bill would produce deficit spending in the amount of $608 billion during the 10-year period from 2015 to 2024.

And that’s before even factoring in the costs of the “public option,” President Obama’s massive new Medicare-like program, which the bill would launch. The CBO didn’t even include that in its tally.

We can hardly afford higher deficits. We have already amassed our first-ever $1 trillion deficit in a fiscal year — and did so before July.

Our deficit this year is projected to become $1.6 trillion. Even as a percentage of our gross domestic product, that’s higher than any deficit we ran during the entire Great Depression. The only time our deficits were this high, even in relation to the size of our economy, was during the Civil War and World War II.

Americans recently commemorated the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. The $608 billion that the House bill would add to our deficits from 2015 to 2024 would be enough to fund NASA’s current budget for 32 years.

Under ObamaCare, it’s not us but our deficits that would reach the moon — and probably Mars.

Jeffrey H. Anderson is a sen ior fellow in health-care stud ies at the Pacific Research In stitute.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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