Greece is the word when it comes to upside-down economies, but America is hardly giving the world a better fiscal example. U.S. government debt continues to spiral out of control, thanks in large part to Obamacare.
Long after the votes to approve the government takeover of health care, bureaucratic number-crunchers are finally doing the math to figure out how much it will cost. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services concluded in April that Democrats double-counted projected Medicare spending cuts as savings and for helping ease existing financial strains on the Medicare system. It can’t do both. Correcting this accounting gimmick adds $89 billion to government medical costs over the next decade.
Last week, the Congressional Budget Office finally got around to answering a question posed by California Rep. Jerry Lewis, the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, about discretionary health care spending. It turns out that under the new law, discretionary spending will be more than twice as much as originally estimated by CBO. The new tally is $115 billion rather than $55 billion.
CBO has yet to come clean on many other major costs, such as how eliminating pre-existing conditions will increase the number of uninsured because people will wait until they are sick to buy insurance. But even without more thorough scoring, the two time bombs already mentioned add $149 billion to the deficit. This wipes out the $143 billion surplus Democrats peddled to win votes for Obamacare.
All these billions are starting to add up. In 2009, the government shortfall for April was $20.9 billion. This year, the deficit was $82.7 billion for April, which is four times higher and twice the $40 billion deficit that was expected. For the first seven months of fiscal 2010, the cumulative budget deficit was $800 billion.
It’s no mystery why CBO, congressional Democrats and the Obama administration played politics with budget numbers. Incomplete and misleading estimates before the vote gave politicians some cover to support a bill hated by the public. If the true extent of Obamacare’s fiscal nightmare had been known, the narrow votes may have gone the other way.