- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 1, 2010

Obamacare is a socialist law designed to take money from some Americans and use it to benefit others. The health care bill signed into law by President Obama is full of hidden time bombs. One costly provision buried in the lengthy reconciliation bill at the last minute has taxpayers covering long-term at-home care for the elderly. Through the so-called Community Living Assistance Services and Support Act (CLASS Act), Americans will find between $150 and $250 taken out of their paychecks each month to cover this program nobody knew about.

Democrats claim this isn’t a controversial program, but if they really believed that, they wouldn’t have had to sneak the provision into the reconciliation bill. But it was snuck in the reconciliation bill only two days before the House vote.

Even some Democrats warned about the financial impact of the home-care program. Before the idea was dropped last year because of stiff opposition, Sen. Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, called the program a Ponzi scheme that would produce massive deficits in the future. A letter released at that time by Mr. Conrad and Democratic Sens. Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Evan Bayh of Indiana, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mark Warner of Virginia warned: “While the goals of the CLASS Act are laudable - finding a way to provide long-term care insurance to individuals - the effects of including this legislation in the merged Senate bill would not be fiscally responsible for several reasons.”

The senators were particularly concerned that the Congressional Budget Office numbers missed the real costs of the program. The CBO is instructed only to consider the fiscal impact over the next 10 years, but the way the scheme is set up, people must pay the additional taxes for at least five years to become eligible. So for the first five years we only see revenue. After that, the taxpayers are eligible only gradually. They must then become old enough to require home health care, so expenditures will occur in the distant future. In other words, we see taxes with no expenditures upfront, but huge expenditures picking up after the CBO’s 10-year evaluation window passes.

The budget concerns of a handful of Democratic senators kept the program out of the earlier version of the health care bill, which passed the Senate before Christmas. If the provision hadn’t been removed, Democrats wouldn’t have obtained the 60 votes needed to break the filibuster. Only by jamming it into the Senate reconciliation bill in March were they able to get it passed with the bare minimum 51 votes.

Ironically, the reconciliation procedure, requiring only a simple majority, was originally designed to help reduce the deficit. It certainly was not meant for circumventing normal procedures and throwing in last-minute budgetary land mines.

Democrats might not consider $109 billion in taxes over the program’s first 10 years to be controversial. But taking $150 to $250 out of each monthly paycheck will cause problems for millions of Americans. This is yet another example of Mr. Obama breaking his promise not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000 per year. It’s not what we consider a very classy act.