“I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits — either now or in the future.” (Remarks by President Obama to a Joint Session of Congress, September 9, 2009)
This afternoon Budget Committee Ranking Member Ryan walked through why the bill put forward by Democrats FAILS the President’s deficit test. The Majority Leader said the bill scores as reducing deficit by $131 billion over the next 10 years. First a little bit about CBO: I work with them every single day; very good people; great professionals. They do their jobs well. But their job is to score what is placed in front of them. And what has been placed in front of them is a bill that is fill of gimmicks and smoke and mirrors. Now what do I mean when I say that? First off, the bill has ten years of tax increases and ten years of Medicare cuts to pay for six years of spending. The true ten year cost when subsidies kick-in? $2.3 trillion.
The bill is full of gimmicks that more than erase the false claim of deficit reduction:
– $52 billion of savings is claimed by counting increased Social Security payroll revenues. These dollars are already claimed for future Social Security beneficiaries, and claiming to offset the cost of this bill either means were double-counting or were not going to pay Social Security benefits.
– $72 billion in savings is claimed from the CLASS Act long-term care insurance. These so-called savings are not offsets, but rather premiums collected to pay for future benefits. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad has called these savings, A ponzi scheme that would make Bernie Madoff proud.
Additionally, the nearly half-trillion dollars in Medicare cuts cannot be counted twice. Medicare is in dire need of reform in order to make certain that we can ensure health security for future seniors.
Using Medicare as a piggy bank, it raids a half trillion dollars from retirees health coverage to fund the creation of another open-ended health care entitlement.
The Presidents chief Medicare actuary says up to 20% of Medicare providers may go bankrupt or stop taking Medicare beneficiaries as a result. Millions of seniors who have chosen Medicare Advantage will lose the coverage they now enjoy.
Objections to the policy aside, you cannot use these savings twice to both extend the life of Medicare and to pay for other spending. The half-trillion dollars in Medicare cuts are either to extend the programs solvency or to reduce the cost of this deficit but not both as its authors claim.
When you strip away the double-counting of Medicare cuts, the so-called savings from Social Security payroll taxes and the CLASS Act, the deficit increases by $460 billion over first ten years and $1.4 trillion over second ten years.
Finally, one of the most expensive and most cynical of the gimmicks applies to Medicare physician payments, the so-called Doc Fix.
By your own estimate, the Doc Fix adds an additional $371 billion to the cost of health care reform. With the price tag beyond what most Americans could handle, the Majority decided to simply remove this costly provision and deal with it in a stand-alone bill.
Ignoring this additional cost does not remove it from the backs of taxpayers. Hiding spending doesn’t reduce spending.