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Health Care a Budget Buster

This from David Broder of the the Washington Post:

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.

Republican budget experts such as former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin amplify 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 so, 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.

http://www.jewishworldreview.com/david/broder112309.php3

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November 24, 2009 - Posted by | Cost, Federal Government, healthcare | , , ,

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