Why This Bill Needs To Crash & Burn
With the House health care vote tomorrow likely to go in favor of Democrats, Republicans and conservatives are doubling down on their pressure on Democrats. We cannot let up until the final vote is cast. The vote is expected to happen tomorrow afternoon, so please call offices and spread around as much as you can just why we should oppose this latest boondoggle. I have gathered information from a variety of sources, and hopefully they can be of assistance.
Regarding the Congressional Budget Office score and other budget concerns:
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) pointed was on Fox yesterday morning, and he pointed out some flaws in the CBO’s score of the House bill. They include accusations that the bill double-counts Medicare cuts, double-counts taxes, and doesn’t include the Doc Fix which, according to CBO in a report released after the bill’s score, would raise the deficit:
You asked about the total budgetary impact of enacting the reconciliation proposal (the amendment to H.R. 4872), the Senate-passed health bill (H.R. 3590), and the Medicare Physicians Payment Reform Act of 2009 (H.R. 3961). CBO estimates that enacting all three pieces of legislation would add $59 billion to budget deficits over the 2010–2019 period.
Under current law, Medicare’s payment rates for physicians’ services will be reduced by about 21 percent in April 2010 and by an average of about 2 percent per year for the rest of the decade. H.R. 3961 would increase those payment rates by 1.2 percent in 2010 and would restructure the sustainable growth rate mechanism beginning in 2011. Those changes would result in significantly higher payment rates for physicians than those that would result under current law. CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 3961, by itself, would cost about $208 billion over the 2010–2019 period. (That estimate reflects the enactment of two short-term extension acts, which lowered the cost in 2010 by about $2 billion compared with CBO’s estimate of November 4, 2009.)…
CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 3961 together with those two bills would add $59 billion to budget deficits over the 2010–2019 period. That amount is about $10 billion less than the figure that would result from summing the effects of enacting the bills separately. The $10 billion difference occurs primarily because H.R. 3590 and the reconciliation proposal would modify how the government’s payments to Medicare Advantage plans are set.
Secondly, the CBO score assumes the following:
CBO has not extrapolated estimates further into the future because the uncertainties surrounding them are magnified even more. However, in view of the projected net savings during the decade following the 10-year budget window, CBO anticipates that the reconciliation proposal would probably continue to reduce budget deficits relative to those under current law in subsequent decades, assuming that all of its provisions would continue to be fully implemented.
What are some of these provisions? They include hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicare cuts that Democrats will immediately move into covering the “Donut Hole.” So, as Ryan noted, the numbers are both double-counted and, furthermore, should we really believe Democrats are going to cut Medicare?
Secondly, the CBO never says the bill will save $1.3 trillion in the second decade, despite what Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) and President Obama are claiming. If you read the letter sent to Pelosi, the CBO says the savings might, if things go really, really well, end up being equal to, or less than, a one-half of one percent of GDP in savings. Unless Democrats are expecting a $130 trillion GDP for America, their numbers are wrong.
Last, but certainly not least, according to The Washington Examiner’s Byrok York, the bill includes the CLASS Act, which is a long-term care program that the CBO accounts for in its analysis. The problem? The CLASS Act is unaffordable in the long run, but the CBO only counts the intake of money, not the expenditures. Furthermore, it includes the Democrats’ student loan modifications, which is where much of the savings for the bill will come from. (Both of these points are explained in some detail here.) So, to summarize, the bill takes in a lot of money, but does not spend much of it for years. These and other budgetary concerns are analyzed quite well here, and by the Senate Budget Committee’s minority staff here.
I need to clarify, by the way, that I am not criticizing the CBO. They analyze what they are given by politicians, and so their numbers are sometimes necessarily incorrect. Blame the politicians- on both sides, yes, but in this case, the Democrats- for gaming the system so dishonestly. Furthermore, the CBO letter is a preliminary letter, which means its analysis is necessarily vague and has many suppositions. As Daniel Foster notes at The Corner, the final one is supposed to be out this weekend.
More bureaucracy and cost for Americans:
According to The Washington Examiner, the bill to be voted on would increase the number of IRS employees by over 16,000. So let me get this straight- we need more IRS employees? Well, I suppose they were doing such a good job with Geithner, Rangel, Daschle and the rest…
It gets worse, however. According to Americans for Tax Reform, the following occur in the bill:
- The number of new tax increases in the healthcare bill: 19
- The number of tax increases that unquestionably violate President Obama’s “firm pledge” not to raise “any form” of taxes on families making less than $250,000: 7
- The tax increase over the first decade if the healthcare bill becomes law: $497 billion
- The top federal tax rate on wages and self-employment earnings under this bill: 43.4%
- The annual tax hike for every man, woman, and child in America: $165
- The top federal tax rate on early distributions from HSAs under this bill: 59.6%
Next, according to Republican Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX) (H/T to the Examiner):
In addition to more complicated tax returns, families and small businesses will be forced to reveal further tax information to the IRS, provide proof of ‘government approved’ health care and submit detailed sales information to comply with new excise taxes.
Thirdly, there are a number of tax increases in the bill. Hundreds of billions of dollars worth, in fact, and they would hit those making less than $250,000 in some cases. Once again, the president is violating his pledge to not hit lower-income Americans. For some reason, Democrats continue to want to reduce the budget by increasing taxes. Or, to put it another way, they believe that hurting the economic growth of America is the way to go.
Fun Fact: Caterpillar will have its costs increased by $100 million in the first year of ObamaCare.
Special Deals- Remember, President Obama doesn’t care about the process
Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) made a Profile In Courage statement Thursday that should send chills down the backs of every Democrat who changes from a “No” vote to a “Yes” vote in the House tomorrow. He threatened to- brace yourselves- hold them accountable, as well as those Democrats who accept deals for their “Yes” votes. Check out the video of Coburn’s statement here.
Unfortunately, some Democrats haven’t paid attention, it seems. Fox News reports a number of states getting special deals, including North Dakota, where last year’s “Yes” vote Earl Pomeroy is from. However, Pomeroy has a tough race this year, and is rumored to be concerned about the abortion elements of the House vote. Is he being bribed with the North Dakota assistance? Considering his is the only state with a loophole regarding the nationalization of the student loan industry (the bank in North Dakota is the only state-run bank in the nation), and he was named Chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee after the Rangel dust-up…I’d say it’s possible. (Full disclosure: my uncle is Pomeroy’s Chief of Staff, which is why I am saying it’s possible, not definite. My uncle wouldn’t work for a bought-and-paid-for Congressman, as my uncle is an honest guy.) The exemption may be pulled, however, as Democratic North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad is asking for it to be eliminated to avoid controversy.
Other deals noted by Fox include:
- Retains $300 million in extra Medicaid aid for Louisiana, which had helped win support for the Senate health bill from Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. The state is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Katrina.
- Keeps $100 million included in the Senate bill that is expected to go for a public hospital in Connecticut sought by Dodd, who is retiring.
- Preserves language won by Baucus permitting many of the 2,900 residents of Libby, Mont., to qualify for Medicare benefits. Some of them have asbestos-related diseases from a now-shuttered mine.
- Provides an additional $8.5 billion over the next decade for 11 states and the District of Columbia to help them pay for the more generous Medicaid assistance they have been providing low-income residents. These states are Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
- Maintains a Senate-approved provision giving extra money for hospitals and doctors in North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.
Another possible deal is noted by the House Republican Conference on their website, where water regulation changes are being accused of acting as a quid-pro-quo. Is it true? We cannot be certain, but the water legislation comes dangerously close to two California Democrats’ support for the bill.
I guess I don’t understand- Americans are against the bill, against the process…and still Democrats can’t get the message?
When it comes down to it, this bill is including the deals typically denigrated by Americans as normal in Congress; it raises the deficit significantly, at an estimated cost of over two trillion dollars; raises taxes on Americans; and continues the over-regulation of American health care. These and other reasons are why we need to keep pushing this over the next 22 hours, convincing our fellow Americans to tell their Democratic representatives to vote against the bill. Here is a partial list of people to call, and here is a lengthier one.