ObamaCare unbound: the government can’t even guess how much it will cost any more
The hideous thing that slithered out of the Democrat Congress and rocked the Internet with a mighty “Web Page Not Found” birthing cry has now grown beyond the ability of science to even measure its bulk, as Roll Call reports:
For Democratic lawmakers who were hesitant to sign onto the sweeping 2010 health care law, one of the most powerful selling points was that the Affordable Care Act would actually reduce the federal budget deficit, despite the additional costs of extending health insurance coverage to the uninsured.
Four years after enactment of what is widely viewed as President Barack Obama’s key legislative achievement, however, it’s unclear whether the health care law is still on track to reduce the deficit or whether it may actually end up adding to the federal debt. In fact, the answer to that question has become something of a mystery.
In its latest report on the law, the Congressional Budget Office said it is no longer possible to assess the overall fiscal impact of the law. That conclusion came as a surprise to some fiscal experts in Washington and is drawing concern. And without a clear picture of the law’s overall financing, it could make it politically easier to continue delaying pieces of it, including revenue raisers, because any resulting cost increases might be hidden.
Great – we’re not only flying off a cliff into the black abyss of single-payer socialized medicine, but we’re blindfolded too. Whatever enlightened representative self-government looks like, this ain’t it.
Charles Blahous, a senior research fellow at George Mason University’s free market-oriented Mercatus Center, calls the CBO’s inability to estimate the net effect of the law “a real problem.”
“The ACA’s financing provisions were assumed to be effective so as to get a favorable score out of CBO upon enactment, but no one is keeping track of whether they’re being enforced,” says Blahous, a public trustee for Social Security and Medicare. “We receive occasional updates on the gross costs of the law, but none on whether the previously projected savings provisions are producing what was originally projected.”
As a result, Blahous says, “there’s no barrier to continually rolling back the financing mechanisms without the effect on the ACA’s finances ever being fully disclosed.”
I’d agree this is indeed a bit of a problem… in the sense that it should be utterly incompatible with the American system of government. What meaning do ballots really have, when the voters can’t be given anything remotely resembling accurate information to base their decisions on? We’re stumbling blind through a bazaar full of frauds and charlatans, barking false promises and unsustainable commitments to draw our attention, robbing us blind, and then packing up their stalls to head out of town before the bills come due.
Investor’s Business Daily takes a look at one of the ObamaCare tentacles that seems to have gone limp over the past few months:
Almost none of the uninsured will end up paying the ObamaCare mandate penalty, according to an updated analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, which found that 87% will be able to claim an exemption.
That exemption rate is higher than the CBO had previously thought, which not only blows a hole in its budget forecast for the law, but also increases the odds of an insurance industry “death spiral.”
According to the CBO’s latest estimate, out of the 30 million people who will still be uninsured in 2016, just 4 million will end up paying any tax penalty, despite the law’s requirement that everyone buy government-approved insurance. Two years ago, the CBO figured 6 million would pay the penalty.
Half of the 4 million now expected to pay the penalty will have incomes below $35,000, the CBO found.
Hey there, people who make less than $35k! How many of you remember Barack Obama saying that the burden of a brand-new tax would fall disproportionately on you?
What this talk of a “death spiral” means is that the real cost of ObamaCare will grow even higher… and be even more heavily concealed. You’ll be bailing out insurance companies through their “risk corridors,” probably with a fresh basket of Skittles dumped by the brace of deficit unicorns chained up in the Treasury basement. Later, when it’s time to feed the unicorns, you won’t even remember exactly what you’re paying for. You’ll just be sternly lectured that it’s your patriotic duty to cough up the money without question.
When the fiscal future our CBO can no longer every pretend to envision arrives, everyone who saddled us with ObamaCare – most definitely including Barack Obama – will be luxuriating in posh taxpayer-funded retirement castles, their own families guaranteed access to a quality of care that middle-class Americans can no longer dream of. In fact, you’ll be told you’re greedy and selfish for wishing you could go back to what we had before ObamaCare came along, and of course you’ll be pilloried for the slightest hesitation in “paying your fair share” and accepting the tax hikes Democrats didn’t want you thinking about in 2010. How many more times will the American people get suckered by this game, voting for “free” goodies today, only to be told in a few years that the deficit has grown out of control and more taxes are inevitable?
Certain promises were made to voters in the past few elections. ObamaCare has lived up to none of them. The “law,” as it exists today, bears only a broad resemblance to what was passed by the legislature…. and the American people, through their representatives, had nothing to say about the mutations that made CBO throw in the towel on guessing what will happen next. But of course, the scam artists who foisted the Affordable Care Act upon us will tell you to forget all that, and assure you that repealing this nightmare would somehow cost the taxpayers more money, so we’re stuck with it forever… until it falls apart on schedule, of course, and the same grifters promptly declare that only an even bigger and costlier single-payer system will do.
For added uncertainty, we’ve got the dubious state of the HealthCareDotGov system itself, what with millions of insurance plans containing potentially destructive data glitches, millions more invalid from the start, and the Administration reluctant to divulge how many plans sold during open enrollment were subsequently canceled. So in a way, you could say that losing those CBO estimates is part for the course. ObamaCare is a shift in power, placing the government forever above its citizens; you’ll notice its commissars don’t feel any responsibility to report accurately to their subjects about how things are going. Who cares what you peons think any more? It’s the “settled law of the land,” and you’ll never be consulted about its future again. What matters now is your obedience, not your satisfaction.
In a sane government, any large program whose financial future can no longer be predicted withing even the most generous margin of error would be immediately terminated. Not only is it a bad idea to have these titanic legislative monstrosities blundering around in the dark and costing us God knows how much, but it’s simply absurd to view such a program as the exercise of powers granted by “the consent of the governed,” and subject to the informed votes of future electorates. The Affordable Care Act certainly isn’t the first program to get out of hand, and it would be overly optimistic to think it will be the last, but it would be useful for the American people to compare how it was sold to what it became, and be more discriminating political customers in the future.