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WOLF: Obamacare or America?

Liberals’ cruel, empty promises hurt rich and poor alike

- - Monday, August 8, 2011

The debt-ceiling debate has revealed that there are two types of politicians in America today: those who still claim we can afford Obamacare and those who will tell you the truth.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the debt-ceiling debate, other than witnessing establishment politicians in complete denial of the mess they've made, is the fact that the Orwellian-named Budget Control Act of 2011 does so little to actually, you know, control the budget. Over the next decade, the plan piles up another $7 trillion of debt to be added to the current $14.5 trillion national debt - not exactly a profile in restraint.

I can't say I'm surprised. Putting politicians in charge of budget control is about as smart as putting filmmaker Michael Moore in charge of the first lady's "Let's Move!" program or putting former New York Democratic Rep. Anthony D. Weiner in charge of Internet decency standards.

The $14.5 trillion debt monster has now grown larger the U.S. economy itself but, as evil as it is, it pales in comparison to the unfunded liability monster. It's time we wrap our minds around this beast. It is so massive that it simply cannot be accurately measured. The "Big Three" - Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - have underfunded promises several times the size of the national debt, according to Federal Reserve figures. One hundred and fifteen trillion dollars - a cool million dollars for each taxpayer - that's around eight times the total U.S. economy. These bills are quickly coming due.

President Obama's unbelievable solution is to turn the "Big Three" into the "Big Four" by adding his massive Obamacare entitlement to the mix. The same spender-in-chief who claimed that the nation is on the verge of default and grandma's Social Security checks can't be guaranteed still wants to grow the welfare state even larger. What does this say about his judgment, assuming he took his own wild claims seriously? Are there no empty promises (or threats) he won't make? Obamacare is the false hope that a cowardly, derelict doctor peddles when he can't bring himself to be honest about the severity of his ailing patient's condition.

What's worse, Obamacare is a parasite that threatens the very survival of its host economy. When Mr. Obama signed his namesake health care takeover into law in March 2010, he converted his wishful-thinking "recovery summer" into the Obama Depression. This before-and-after moment of the Obama presidency saw private-sector job creation plummet from a modest 67,600 new jobs per month to a flat line of 6,500. Compare that with the 285,800 jobs created per month under President Reagan during the similar time period in the 1980s. And if you can stomach it, compare it with the 400,000-plus new jobless claims - a new normal under Obamanomics - each week.

Obamacare targets job creators like a heat-seeking missile. In Obama-world, any company that dares to employ Americans, particularly more than 50, must face additional financial burdens. As federal compliance makes each new hire prohibitively more expensive, companies that would otherwise expand, won't. In fact, employers who hope to keep their heads above water are being forced to shed as many jobs as possible, particularly within the health care sector itself, which is hit especially hard with rationed reimbursements and increased taxes. Boston Scientific, for example, a medical-device company that provides everything from life-saving cardiac pacemakers to laser-therapy systems, recently announced that it is laying off 1,200 to 1,400 employees. Meanwhile, the same company is investing $150 million and hiring 1,000 people in Red China because the communists have less burdensome government regulations than Barack Obama's America.

What's worse - the "galling irony," as health care economist David Catron describes it - is that the Obama administration now admits Obamacare will not reduce health care costs. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a report last month indicating health care costs will rise faster under Obamacare than they would have in its absence. Ponder that for a moment. It turns out that Mr. Obama's ability to "bend the cost curve downward" is as mythical as his "shovel-ready jobs" and "recovery summer."

This brings us back to the debt crisis and the unfunded-liability monster. The only hope America has to tame this beast and meet its obligations is to undertake a serious restructuring of the "Big Three" while at the same time maintaining a vibrant, growing economy. Obamacare sabotages both.

America is proving true the prophetic words of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher: "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." What America's liberals do not understand is that there is one fate far more cruel than not receiving other people's money: It is being falsely promised that you will receive other people's money in the first place. It's time politicians quit making promises they can't keep with money they don't have. It's time we be honest about the severity of this patient's condition.

Obamacare will end. The only mystery now is how. Downgraded America has simply run out of other people's money. Obamacare's last gasps will either be at the hands of responsible leaders with the strength and courage to unshackle America from it or with the outright financial collapse of America itself under the crushing burden of the unfunded-liability monster, but it will happen. It's Obamacare or America. I choose America.

Dr. Milton R. Wolf is a board-certified diagnostic radiologist and cousin of President Obama. He blogs at MiltonWolf.com.