“Part of the reason I faced a trillion-dollar deficit when I walked in the door of the White House is because too many initiatives over the last decade were not paid for,” President Obama said in a joint speech to Congress during the debate over Obamacare. “Here’s what you need to know. First, I will not sign a plan that adds one dime our deficits, either now or in the future. Period.”
A new report from the Government Accountability Office is the latest piece of evidence to show that just isn’t true. Andrew Stiles writes for National Review:
The GAO report is essentially the first attempt to isolate and calculate Obamacare’s impact on the deficit beyond the traditional ten-year budget window. …
The baseline scenario is far more optimistic, largely because it does not take into account the concerns — expressed by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Trustees, and Medicare’s chief actuary — about “whether certain cost-containment mechanisms included in PPACA can be sustained over the long term.”
The alternative scenario, which incorporates the more realistic “alternative projections” suggested by CBO, the CMS trustees, and the chief Medicare actuary, is even more dire. Under this scenario, the “primary deficit” increases by 0.7 percent of GDP over the 75-year period. The GAO does not put a dollar value on that figure, but Senate Budget Committee staff has calculated, and GAO has confirmed, that it would amount to a $6.2 trillion increase in the federal deficit.
Specifically the GAO warns that “while the steps taken in PPACA to restrain spending on the federal health programs were significant, they were not sufficient to prevent an unsustainable increase in debt held by the public even under the more optimistic assumptions in our Baseline Extended simulation.”
The GAO isn’t the first group to express concern about Obamacare’s purported savings. Last year Medicare’s chief actuary, Richard Foster, warned that “the financial projections . . . shown for Medicare do not represent a reasonable expectation for actual program operations in either the short range (as a result of the unsustainable reductions in payment rates) or the long rage (because of the strong likelihood that the statutory reductions in price updates for most categories of Medicare provider services will not be viable).” Similar concerns about the viability of Obamacare’s cost-containment provisions have been expressed by the Congressional Budget Office and Office of the Chief Actuary.
The various reports, most recently by the GAO, have drawn the attention of some none-too-pleased Republicans.
“The big-government crowd in Washington manipulated the numbers in order to get the financial score they wanted, in order to get their bill passed and to increase power and influence,” Sen. Jeff Sessions said this morning at a Senate Budget Committee hearing. “The goal was not truth or financial responsibility, but to pass the bill. This is how a country goes broke.”
Unfortunately, by any conventional measure we’re already broke. Everyone knows about the $16 trillion debt that we’ve already racked up. But is that the entirety of the problem? Arguably not. In a column this week the Washington Post’s Robert Samuelson argues that when other liabilities like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and student loans are taken into account the national debt soars to $31 trillion.
The situation appears even more bleak when you consider the future liabilities of the federal government because of entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and the pensions of federal employees. When all of this is added together, argue Chris Cox and Bill Archer in the Wall Street Journal, the debt exceeds $86.8 trillion.
In other words, we had our hands full well before Obama decided to add another unpaid for entitlement. Then again, he was technically right when he said Obamacare wouldn’t add one dime to the deficit. Truth be told we now know it adds about 62 trillion dimes. Period. adm