Examiner Editorial: President offers a whopper on health care 

President Barack Obama has said it repeatedly during his yearlong campaign to win approval of his proposal to put Washington, D.C., bureaucrats in charge of America’s health care system: Obamacare will reduce the federal deficit by lowering government spending on health care programs.

After the health care summit two weeks ago, the claim was prominently posted on the official White House Web site: “It puts our budget and economy on a more stable path by reducing the deficit by $100 billion over the next 10 years — and about $1 trillion over the second decade — by cutting government overspending and reining in waste, fraud and abuse.”

What a whopper. But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, said of the Senate bill that is the basis for Obama’s latest proposal: “Under the legislation, federal outlays for health care would increase during the 2010–2019 period, as would the federal budgetary commitment to health care. The net increase in that commitment would be about $200 billion over that 10-year period, driven primarily by the gross cost of the coverage expansions (including increases in both outlays and tax credits).”

Even officials with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — who run the government’s two main health care programs within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — said Obamacare will increase, not decrease, federal spending on health care: “We estimate that overall national health expenditures under this bill would increase by an estimated total of $222 billion (0.6 percent) during calendar years 2010-2019.”

Nobody should be surprised that the numbers show the opposite of what Obama claims. He campaigned in 2008 on a promise of a “net spending cut” in the federal government. Here’s CBO’s latest evaluation of his proposed 2011 budget, as reported by CNN: “If President Obama’s 2011 budget were put into effect as proposed, the U.S. federal government would add an estimated $9.8 trillion to the country’s accrued debt over the next decade, according to a preliminary analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. Of that amount, an estimated $5.6 trillion will be in interest alone. By 2020, the agency estimates debt held by the public would reach $20.3 trillion, or 90 percent of GDP. That’s up from 53 percent of GDP in 2009.”

Why do Washington, D.C., politicians make claims they know won’t pass the giggle test for veracity, particularly on their determination to get federal spending under control? No wonder 81 percent of the respondents to a recent New York Times survey said they trust the government only some or not at all.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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