Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Oh, Please

In a move that will surprise absolutely no one with either half a functioning brain or a shred of intellectual honesty, the C.B.O. has upped its cost estimate on Obamacare to more than $1 trillion over the first ten years. The additional costs reflect the expenses of implementing the overhaul - setting up the insurance exchanges, assembling an enforcement apparatus for the individual mandate (20,000 more IRS Agents, whoopee!), and so on. As a result, the magical "savings" we were going to realize as part of enacting a massive, expensive new entitlement have already begun to evaporate, before the bill even takes effect. Never fear, however -'s resident Obamacare apologist/B.S. monger Timothy Noah tells us not to worry. It might cost more than we were told it would, but it's still a great deal! And it's not going to get any more expensive - really! This sentence is particularly dishonest:
But given the roughly $113 billion in government spending it currently
looks like the bill will save, it seems a safe bet that Obamacare will be able
to finance itself over the next decade.

Before the C.B.O.'s readjustment, it "looked like" the bill was going to save more than that. The fact is, what it "looks like" something will cost before it is actually implemented is a completely meaningless number. The C.B.O. acknowledged that its initial estimate of the price tag of Obamacare did not reflect the costs of unspecified "discretionary spending" included in the bill to fund its implementation, which essentially means that the estimate is worth precisely nothing to anyone trying to predict how much it actually will end up costing. Obamacare opponents, meanwhile, spent months prior to the bill's passage hammering precisely the point that the program was likely to cost more than projected, along with the related point that it would make it far more difficult to reduce the budget deficit by making some of the few cuts to government service that are politically feasible and using the proceeds not to pay down the debt but to offset new spending. The vast majority of Obamacare isn't even law yet, and already the critics have been proven right on both counts. If Noah thinks it's a safe bet that Obamacare is actually going to save the government $113 billion over the first ten years, he's welcome to put his own money down on it. Personally I'd opt for something with better odds - PowerBall tickets, maybe.

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