- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2007

In the opening statement of his 15-page, heavily footnoted (65 of them) policy paper on U.S. health care, Democrat Barack Obama, who is seeking his party’s presidential nomination, reports that “[t]he U.S. spends over $2 trillion on medical care every year,” according to a February 2007 report, “National Health Expenditures,” issued by the Department of Health and Human Services. Citing the same report, the senator informs us that “[h]ealth care spending is expected to double within the next decade.”

Now, keep in mind that if the Senate freshman were to win his bid, three of those years will have expired by the time of his January 2009 inauguration. And he would still be two years away from beginning to tap the additional tax revenues he claims will be adequate to finance the federal government’s contribution to “high-quality, affordable health care coverage for all by the end of his first term.”

Mr. Obama’s magical spreadsheet gets even better. After he achieves “universal health care in this country” by the end of 2012, “the typical family will save up to $2,500 every year on medical expenditures.” Somehow we get the sense that Mr. Obama’s plan does not add up.

Let’s begin with how it would be financed. (We’ll look at the operational details in a later editorial.) On May 13, Mr. Obama told ABC News that he would fund his health-care program by “rolling back the Bush tax cuts on the top 1 percent of people who don’t need it.” According to the Tax Policy Center, the top 1 percent of household income begins at an adjusted-gross-income level of about $350,000. When Mr. Obama released the details of his health plan on May 29, 16 days after his appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” his advisers told the New York Times that he would pay for his plan by not renewing President Bush’s tax cuts for those making $250,000 per year after the tax cuts expire at the end of 2010. Now he wants to rescind the tax cuts on the top 2 percent. In less than three weeks, the income level at which the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts would be rescinded fell by $100,000 (or nearly 30 percent). And the number of households whose tax cuts would not be renewed has doubled. At this rate, in order to pay for his spending programs, Mr. Obama will soon be secretly planning to levy a surtax on part-time workers at McDonald’s.

In all seriousness, Mr. Obama does not know how much his universal health-care plan would cost taxpayers. He is clearly low-balling his forecast. Campaign officials told the New York Times that the total cost to the federal government to achieve universal health care by 2012 would be between $50 billion and $65 billion per year. And the “typical family will save up to $2,500 every year”? He’s not offering “the audacity of hope.” He’s marketing the audacity of delusion.

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