Senate 'Obamacare' Concept Costs $829 Billion

Yesterday, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reported that the Obamacare bill still being drafted by the Senate Finance Committee will cost a whopping $829 billion dollars while leaving over 25 million people still uninsured by 2019.  

The President claimed in his speech to the joint session of Congress that 30 million citizens were uninsured. That means Democrats want to spend $829 billion dollars to insure 5 million American citizens over the next 10 years. With the government running health care, that’s about as accurate a cost estimate as you’re ever likely to see.

The Finance Committee bill, being engineered by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), is still unfinished. The “bill” scored by CBO is not the bill that Congress would vote on.  It’s a concept with amendments.  

CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf has stated on several occasions that an accurate CBO scores requires legislative language.  But CBO didn’t have it to do an accurate score on the Baucus draft.  So how reliable is this cost estimate?  And how much of a burden will it be on the economy?

According to this new CBO score, the Baucus concept draft contains $506 billion in new taxes and over a half-trillion in cuts to Medicare, Medicare Advantage and Medicaid while moving millions more to the Medicaid rolls.  The CBO score also claims that the draft is budget-neutral. Right.

Should this concept draft pass out of committee, it still has to be merged with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee partial bill passed earlier this year which contains a robust government-run health care option and, like the Senate Finance concept, does not bar federal funding of abortion nor does it require proof of citizenship when enrolling for government-run health care coverage.

The legislative language will be written when these two bills merge.  All sorts of things will be inserted that are not part of the CBO cost estimate score.  Democrat Senate leadership says Republicans will be shut out of this bill-writing process.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Finance, says hard working American families will foot the bill to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.
“I worry that some of my colleagues will focus only on the deficit-neutral piece of CBO’s document,” Grassley said.  “A celebration of the deficit effects masks who pays the bills.  This package includes hundreds of billions of dollars in new taxes and fees.  Most Americans with health insurance will see their premiums increase.”  

He added, “Uninsured individuals would pay a tax for not obtaining government-approved health insurance.  Employers who already offer health insurance would face a penalty if their workers choose subsidy-eligible insurance.  With all of this, the bill spends nearly a $1 trillion and still leaves 25 million people without health insurance.  That’s not much bang for the buck”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky dismissed the CBO’s preliminary analysis as irrelevant to the final product, what he called the “real bill.”

“This partisan Finance Committee proposal will never see the Senate floor since the real bill will be written by Democrat leaders in a closed-to-the-public conference room somewhere in the Capitol,” McConnell said.  “The real bill will be another 1,000-page, trillion-dollar experiment that slashes a half-trillion dollars from seniors’ Medicare, raises taxes on American families by $400 billion, increases health care premiums, and vastly expands the role of the federal government in the personal health care decisions of every American.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, pointed to a litany of problems with this amended concept draft before Democrats even begin to merge it with the HELP bill that more resembles the dreaded radical H.R. 3200, the horrors of which were read aloud at town hall meetings across the country over the summer break.

“This is an estimate of a concept, not a formal cost analysis of an actual bill.  What we know at this point is that the bill cuts Medicare, raises taxes, and increases insurance premiums for tens of millions of Americans,” Alexander said.  “It imposes onerous new costs on states and is likely to increase the federal debt.  We need to see the actual bill text and know its exact text before we begin a lengthy debate about whether it’s the right direction for our country.”

The vote on passage of the amended concept draft could be voted on in the Senate Finance Committee as early as today.

Democrats Vote to Bring Gitmo Terrorists to the U.S.

The House and Senate conference committee met yesterday to negotiate the final conference report on the fiscal year 2010 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, merging together the two pieces of legislation that passed each chamber. Democrats on the committee voted to approve language in the conference report which would allow the transfer of Guantanamo Bay terrorist detainees to U.S. soil.

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), ranking Republican on Homeland Appropriations and an appointed member of the conference committee, offered a motion to prohibit any Guantanamo detainee from being transferred onto U.S. soil for any reason.  Democrat conferees struck down the motion on a straight party line vote.

“The Democrats in the conference committee today have defied the will of Congress and the American people and have voted to allow terrorist detainees to be brought onto American soil at taxpayer expense,” said House Appropriations ranking Republican Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.).  “Guantanamo detainees are dangerous enemies of the state, and we should not put the safety, security, and the peace of mind of the American people at risk by allowing them into our communities.”

We have nothing to report — so far — on whether Democrats will make the Gitmo inmates eligible for Obamacare once they’re brought here.

Senate Adopts Amendment to Fund Missile Defense

Sens. Joe Lieberman (Ind.-Conn.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) introduced an amendment Tuesday to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that will protect funding for the continued development of the two-stage Ground Based Interceptor (GBI) missile.  The bill was adopted by unanimous vote.

The Lieberman-Sessions amendment will “… allow the Missile Defense Agency to use up to $151 million of funds provided for in the FY09 or FY10 defense appropriations acts for a long-range missile defense system in Europe to support the continued development or testing of the two-stage GBI program, which the Secretary of Defense has identified as an essential ‘hedge’ against the risks in the administration’s proposed missile defense plan for Europe.  It will also protect funding for this program against other uses and require a report detailing specific options for how the two-stage GBI could be deployed to enhance U.S. defenses against a long-range threat.”

“This amendment reaffirms the Senate’s position that the United States should not settle for any missile defense system that leaves our homeland more vulnerable to attack,” said Lieberman.  “We will continue to fight for missile defenses that can protect both our allies in Europe and the Middle East, as well as the continental United States from the threat of Iran’s growing missile programs.”

“It is critical that we take the necessary steps to ensure a layered missile defense system that would protect both Americans and our European allies from an ever increasing Iranian threat,” Sessions said.  “The American people do not want us to walk away from our responsibility to defend America or our commitments to our friends around the world.  Failure to maintain this capability is an invitation to foreign nations to aggressively pursue intercontinental missile technology.”