“Some of the headlines in recent days are not worthy of belief,” Michael Barone writes in today’s D.C. Examiner. Barone is not referring to news of President Obama’s Nobel Prize. He is talking about reports that the Baucus health care bill, scheduled for a vote in committee today, will cut the federal deficit by $81 billion over the next ten years. Don’t believe this. Barone notes:
Yes, that is what the Congressional Budget Office estimated. But, as the CBO noted, there’s no actual Baucus bill, just some “conceptual language.” Actual language, the CBO noted, might result in “significant changes” in its estimates. No wonder Democratic congressional leaders killed requirements that the actual language be posted on the Internet for 72 hours before Congress votes.
But it’s worse than that:
More significant is the number most publications did not put in their headlines and lead paragraphs: the CBO’s estimate that the Baucus “conceptual language” would increase federal spending by $829 billion over ten years. So how do you increase federal spending and cut the deficit at the same time?
Higher taxes—make that onerously high taxes—will be one way. And there’s yet another reason to be wary: CBO projections on medical issues are inevitably much more modest than the costs will be. And aside from the financial burden, the Baucus bill reduces our liberty. We will be forced to buy health insurance policies approved by the government.
You’d think that, with all these complicating factors, the Senate would want to take it slowly. This is one of the most serious debates in our nation’s history. So what’s the rush? Barone writes:
There are no good public policy reasons to pass such a bill hurriedly and before it can be fully analyzed and debated. Only political reasons: line up enough Democratic members before they can process the public opinion polls that show most voters hostile to such measures and before they are faced with probable though not certain Democratic defeats in Virginia and New Jersey in November. Too bad the Nobel committee doesn’t have a vote.