A few important commentaries on the what and the why of ObamaCare. First from Yuval Levin:
Bill Kristol cuts to the core of the bill's badness as revealed in the CBO report:
The story of the day is certainly Senator Ben Nelson’s shameless perfidy—giving up his pro-life principles in return for swindling taxpayers in the other 49 states into paying all of Nebraska’s future new Medicaid costs. The deal he struck would undermine both the logic underlying the Hyde Amendment and the logic underlying the Medicaid system. There is no conceivable policy argument for the way the new bill treats Nebraska, it’s simply a case of a senator’s vote being purchased with taxpayer dollars. [. . .]
The CBO assessment of the bill tells the appalling story. We are going to raise taxes by half a trillion dollars over the next ten years, increase spending by more than a trillion dollars, cut Medicare by $470 billion but use that money to fund a new entitlement rather than to fix Medicare itself, bend the health care cost curve up rather than down, insert layers of bureaucracy between doctors and patients, and compel and subsidize universal participation in a failed system of health insurance rather than reform or improve it. Indeed, this bill will make it exceedingly difficult to fix our health insurance financing system in the future, since it sucks dry the potential means of such reform but leaves the fundamental cost problem essentially untouched (and in some respects worsened.) After all the back and forth, pulling and tugging, it is hard to see what is left in this bill that any member of Congress, liberal or conservative, would want to support. [Read the rest.]
More on the CBO scoring from Jeffrey H. Anderson: CBO: Real 10-Year Cost of Senate Bill Still $2.5 Trillion:
"Based on the extrapolation described above, CBO expects that Medicare spending under the legislation would increase at an average annual rate of roughly 6 percent during the next two decades--well below the roughly 8 percent annual growth rate of the past two decades (excluding the effect of establishing the Medicare prescription drug benefit). Adjusting for inflation, Medicare spending per beneficiary under the legislation would increase at an average annual rate of less than 2 percent during the next two decades--about half of the roughly 4 percent annual growth rate of the past two decades. It is unclear whether such a reduction in the growth rate could be achieved, and if so, whether it would be accomplished through greater efficiencies in the delivery of health care or would reduce access to care or diminish the quality of care."
Here are the key ten words: "reduce access to care or diminish the quality of care."
In those real first 10 years (2014 to 2023), Americans would have to pay over $1 trillion in additional taxes, over $1 trillion would be siphoned out of Medicare (over $200 billion out of Medicare Advantage alone) and spent on Obamacare, and deficits would rise by over $200 billion. They would rise, that is, unless Congress follows through on the bill's pledge to cut doctors' payments under Medicare by 21 percent next year and never raise them back up -- which would reduce doctors' enthusiasm for seeing Medicare patients dramatically.Mark Steyn on why the Dems are willing to take a brutal electoral hit:
And what would Americans get in return for this staggering sum? Well, the CBO says that health care premiums would rise, and the Chief Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says that the percentage of the Gross Domestic Product spent on health care would rise from 17 percent today to 21 percent by the end of 2019. Nationwide health care costs would be $234 billion higher than under current law. How's that for "reform"? [Read the rest.]
How very fitting it is that the unborn must be sacrificed to the gods of socialism. It couldn't be otherwise. But it is possible that the statists have finally gone too far; if Americans notice this they will be outraged. Sen. Tom Coburn's denunciation of this deal should be distributed far and wide.
Kathryn, re your Facebook friend who asks, "Can we officially retire the phrases 'blue dog' democrats and 'pro life' democrats? Because there is no such thing:"
As I wrote back in the summer, "Put not your trust in Blue Dog Democrats." It was folly to bet the Republic on the likes of Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln and other "moderates" who are, by definition, trimmers and accommodationists.
By contrast, Barney Frank and the more ambitious Dems are thinking long-term. And, if it's a choice between getting government health care or keeping Ben Nelson, it's no contest. Not to keep quoting myself ad nauseam, but as I said to Hugh Hewitt a couple of months back:
I think the administration is willing to take the hit. In other words, to get health care, they would be willing to reduce their majority, and perhaps even lose their majority in the House and the Senate, because they know it’s a game changer. Now to sell that to individual Senators and Congressmen, you’ve got to have something up your sleeve for them... There are strange elements in play here. But they’ve factored into the whole business a potential, I think, a potential significant loss in the year 2010, in next year’s elections.
I've been saying for a year now, in NR and NRO, that the object for savvy Dems is to get this thing passed in whatever form because, once you do, there's no going back. Kim Strassel in yesterday's Journal gets it:
So why the stubborn insistence on passing health reform? Think big. The liberal wing of the party—the Barney Franks, the David Obeys—are focused beyond November 2010, to the long-term political prize. They want a health-care program that inevitably leads to a value-added tax and a permanent welfare state. Big government then becomes fact, and another Ronald Reagan becomes impossible. See Continental Europe.
Just so. And that's worth whatever hit they have to take in 2010. Every time I make the point, someone says, oh, Jim Webb this or Byron Dorgan that, or have you see Harry Reid's numbers in Nevada? Oh, please. We've just seen what happens when you make Ben Nelson your Maginot Line. The Dems are thinking strategically; the Republicans are all tactics.
And at the risk of repeating myself, it's not over. Again, from the prophet Isaiah, via our Christmas novena:
Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the weak knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.But only if we continue to fight. Bill Kristol has your marching orders.
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