Monday, March 22, 2010

Something Close to Nothing!

People will no doubt continue to remain bitterly divided of the health care debate despite the new law/reform Congress passed last night. Good and honest people can and will arrive at different conclusions and have vastly different viewpoints as to what is best for this nation.

I have no doubt President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and the rest of their cohorts who voted in favor of Obamacare yesterday think they are making a more perfect union.

But, in my opinion, I think Congress has done something close to nothing to reform America’s health care system.

The sad reality is that for those of us who think the ballooning national debt is a key indicator of our nation's health and prosperity, the country is in desperate straits carrying a sense of falling that is undeniable. The continued expansion of government control and intervention coupled with massive spending increases make it difficult to be optimistic about our country's future.

The financial facts of this bill were continually ignored by the 219 members of the House who voted on this massive entitlement bill. Read at the bottom the Op Ed piece in the New York Times (of all sources) which laid out the truth about this bill. (“The Real Arithmetic of Health Care Reform”)

Given the government's history or grossly underestimating the actual costs of entitlement programs, I don’t know about you, but I know I don’t trust the government to hold my money.

Now, one last point, while everyone has an obligation to help those who are less fortunate, it is important how that duty is fulfilled. I simply believe that President Obama's desire for the government to carry out that responsibility is misguided and will lead to more government waste and neglect of the very ones they claim to want to help.

If you remember the Parable of the Good Samaritan, there's a priest and a Levite who use their freedom in different ways than the Samaritan did. They chose not to help the man who was lying by the side of the road. But the Samaritan used his freedom, and Jesus encouraged his followers to use their freedom to help the poor and the sick. And when you do that, the care that they receive ends up being better.

Many are predicting that the government's effort to provide medical care to the poor will be an “administrative and bureaucratic nightmare" because of the all the politicking and litigation involved.”

This country has a lot of soul searching to do when it comes to what's best for our nation's health care needs

People are afraid that this new health care law will lead to socialized medicine, no choice of doctors or hospitals, and their list goes on and on.

It is indeed a time of reflection and prayer. In the end, We must always remember what the God of heavens says about Himself and about the righteous and wicked,

"Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men who cannot save. When their spirits depart, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them--the Lord, who remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the alien, and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. The Lord reigns forever

Psalm 147:3-10a (NIV).


The Real Arithmetic of Health Care Reform
Published: March 20, 2010

ON Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office reported that, if enacted, the latest health care reform legislation would, over the next 10 years, cost about $950 billion, but because it would raise some revenues and lower some costs, it would also lower federal deficits by $138 billion. In other words, a bill that would set up two new entitlement spending programs — health insurance subsidies and long-term health care benefits — would actually improve the nation’s bottom line.

Could this really be true? How can the budget office give a green light to a bill that commits the federal government to spending nearly $1 trillion more over the next 10 years?

The answer, unfortunately, is that the budget office is required to take written legislation at face value and not second-guess the plausibility of what it is handed. So fantasy in, fantasy out.

In reality, if you strip out all the gimmicks and budgetary games and rework the calculus, a wholly different picture emerges: The health care reform legislation would raise, not lower, federal deficits, by $562 billion.
Gimmick No. 1 is the way the bill front-loads revenues and backloads spending. That is, the taxes and fees it calls for are set to begin immediately, but its new subsidies would be deferred so that the first 10 years of revenue would be used to pay for only 6 years of spending.

Even worse, some costs are left out entirely. To operate the new programs over the first 10 years, future Congresses would need to vote for $114 billion in additional annual spending. But this so-called discretionary spending is excluded from the
Congressional Budget Office’s tabulation.

Consider, too, the fate of the $70 billion in premiums expected to be raised in the first 10 years for the legislation’s new long-term health care insurance program. This money is counted as deficit reduction, but the benefits it is intended to finance are assumed not to materialize in the first 10 years, so they appear nowhere in the cost of the legislation.

Another vivid example of how the legislation manipulates revenues is the provision to have corporations deposit $8 billion in higher estimated tax payments in 2014, thereby meeting fiscal targets for the first five years. But since the corporations’ actual taxes would be unchanged, the money would need to be refunded the next year.

The net effect is simply to shift dollars from 2015 to 2014.
In addition to this accounting sleight of hand, the legislation would blithely rob Peter to pay Paul. For example, it would use $53 billion in anticipated higher Social Security taxes to offset health care spending. Social Security revenues are expected to rise as employers shift from paying for health insurance to paying higher wages. But if workers have higher wages, they will also qualify for increased Social Security benefits when they retire. So the extra money raised from payroll taxes is already spoken for. (Indeed, it is unlikely to be enough to keep Social Security solvent.) It cannot be used for lowering the deficit.

A government takeover of all federally financed student loans — which obviously has nothing to do with health care — is rolled into the bill because it is expected to generate $19 billion in deficit reduction.

Finally, in perhaps the most amazing bit of unrealistic accounting, the legislation proposes to trim $463 billion from Medicare spending and use it to finance insurance subsidies. But Medicare is already bleeding red ink, and the health care bill has no reforms that would enable the program to operate more cheaply in the future. Instead, Congress is likely to continue to regularly override scheduled cuts in payments to Medicare doctors and other providers.

Removing the unrealistic annual Medicare savings ($463 billion) and the stolen annual revenues from Social Security and long-term care insurance ($123 billion), and adding in the annual spending that so far is not accounted for ($114 billion) quickly generates additional deficits of $562 billion in the first 10 years. And the nation would be on the hook for two more entitlement programs rapidly expanding as far as the eye can see.

The bottom line is that Congress would spend a lot more; steal funds from education, Social Security and long-term care to cover the gap; and promise that future Congresses will make up for it by taxing more and spending less.

The stakes could not be higher. As documented in another recent budget office analysis, the federal deficit is already expected to exceed at least $700 billion every year over the next decade, doubling the national debt to more than $20 trillion. By 2020, the federal deficit — the amount the government must borrow to meet its expenses — is projected to be $1.2 trillion, $900 billion of which represents interest on previous debt.

The health care legislation would only increase this crushing debt. It is a clear indication that Congress does not realize the urgency of putting America’s fiscal house in order.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who was the director of the Congressional Budget Office from 2003 to 2005, is the president of the American Action Forum, a policy institute.

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