According to a new Gallup Poll, Americans now view the federal budget deficit as our country’s greatest long-term challenge. The national debt is $12.5 trillion, and President Obama’s recent 10-year budget would run an $8.5 trillion deficit.
To make matters worse, liberals are actively trying to expand the size, scope and power of government, and doing so could exacerbate an already severe problem. Government programs usually cost more than initially expected, which is a startling thought considering ObamaCare’s staggering predicted costs.
History is littered with examples of government cost overruns. Just last summer the infamous $1 billion Cash for Clunkers program ultimately ended up costing $3 billion.
Last year’s so-called stimulus provides even more fodder. The original price tag was to be a “mere” $787 billion. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently raised the cost estimate to $862 billion. It’s likely that figure will continue to rise.
Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) asked the CBO what would happen if Congress theoretically extended the spending increases in the stimulus for 20 very popular programs. The answer? $3.3 trillion in spending over 10 years! Even though President Obama says the stimulus is timely, targeted and temporary, his budget calls for key stimulus provision to be extended. Congress seems likely to acquiesce and has already extended key provisions, including unemployment insurance ($10 billion per month).
Entitlement programs (i.e., what ObamaCare will become) have a rich history of rapid growth. They quickly surpass their original cost projections. Last year, the Wall Street Journal found some startling facts:
• Medicaid, government heath insurance for the poor, now costs 3,700 percent more than its original estimate;
• Medicare, government heath insurance for the elderly, was expected to cost $12 billion in 1990. The actual cost was $90 billion;
• SCHIP, government health insurance for children, was estimated to cost $5.4 billion in 2008. The actual cost was $6.8 billion.
Heritage’s Robert Rector found that means-tested welfare programs (food stamps, public housing, migrant training, etc.) will have grown by nearly 45 percent from fiscal year 2007 to fiscal year 2011.
It’s an ominous record.
The most recent Congressional Budget Office report on the Senate-version of ObamaCare, which the House is expected to vote on this week, says it would cost Americans $875 billion over the next decade. Given our knowledge of government programs, especially health care entitlements, lawmakers would be wise to expect that price tag to be much higher.
Of course, some experts report the true cost of the proposed reform awaiting House action would be closer to $2.5 trillion over 10-years. The gimmicks which result in the politically convenient sub-$900 billion estimates have been well documented, but several are worth reviewing:
• The Medicare “Doc Fix” is missing, despite Senator Max Baucus’s (D-MT) pronouncement that” the current Medicare payment system for doctors is fundamentally flawed.” Adding it costs $200 billion;
• The CLASS Act, a new entitlement program, is double-counted to provide an estimated $72 billion in savings;
• Because spending doesn’t start until 2014, the official score only captures seven years of spending, as opposed to ten years of “revenue offsets” (i.e., tax and fee increases).
The bad news doesn’t stop there, though. Liberals have made clear that ObamaCare doesn’t go far enough. The powerful chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Henry Waxman (D-CA), has masterfully expanded Medicaid coverage (and cost) over the years. CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf acknowledged last year that all cost estimates “assume that the provisions are enacted and remain unchanged throughout the next two decades, which is often not the case for major legislation.”
Surely liberals in Congress and the administration recognize we cannot continue to spend recklessly and simply allow another massive entitlement program to balloon out of control. Right?
A startling exchange in a House subcommittee last week raises the proposition that they don’t. Asked by Congressman John Linder (R-GA) if $953 billion a year is enough for welfare spending, Carmen Nazario, the administration’s point person on Children and Families responded: “Who’s to say what is enough?”
The American people are surely in a position to say what is enough. A recent poll suggests only 23 percent of U.S. voters “prefer a more active government with more services and higher taxes.” Liberals have tried to sell Americans a bill of tainted goods when it comes to ObamaCare, but their sales pitch and their entire premise has been thoroughly rejected. Despite that, if the House acts this week, the President may very well sign into law a bill that threatens to ignite our debt and spending problems, which are both already set to explode.
Sign up to the Human Events newsletter