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Obamacare: "The Bigger The Lie"

A Commentary By Howard Rich

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lost amid the partisan sniping and procedural jousting over the passage of “Obamacare” is a fundamental, unavoidable hypocrisy - one that’s worth unmasking as Washington politicians continue to ignore the will of the American people and plunge our nation deeper into full-blown socialism.

President Barack Obama and his Congressional allies are spending money that they know we don’t have on a program that they know isn’t going to work – all in an effort to expand government’s control over the private sector and its reach into the private lives of American citizens.

Sound a bit conspiratorial?

It’s not – at least not when you turn down the partisan rhetoric (on both sides of the debate) and start examining what this monstrosity actually does.

“ObamaCare is really about who commands the country's medical resources,” an editorial in The Wall Street Journal noted the day before the legislation was passed. “It vastly accelerates the march toward a totally state-driven system, in contrast to reforms that would fix today's distorted status quo by putting consumers in control.”

With government already purchasing nearly half of all health care services in America (a system that’s rampant with fraud and anti-competitive price-fixing), just who did you think was responsible for the “distorted status quo” that Obamacare ostensibly seeks to correct?

Here’s a hint – it’s not those "evil" insurance companies, which will be receiving nearly a half-trillion dollars in “Obamacare” subsidies.

Consistent with the core fallacy of other recent socialist misadventures (like former President George Bush’s TARP bailout or Obama’s so-called “stimulus”), Washington politicians are once again attempting to solve problems that have been exacerbated by excessive government interventionism with additional government interventionism. “Dumping buckets of water on the head of a drowning victim,” if you will.

Even though America can’t even begin to afford its current entitlement obligations, Washington’s answer is to create yet another new entitlement program – something that Republicans who voted in favor of Bush’s prescription drug benefit know all about. And even as Medicare and Medicaid have failed spectacularly (and expensively) to provide cost-effective health care, Obama and his allies are using this failure as an excuse to dramatically escalate their “government knows best” approach to include individual mandates and huge fines for families and small businesses who fail to comply.

It’s a power grab, pure and simple. And a money grab, which is why “Obamacare” spends $10 billion to hire 17,000 new tax collectors at the IRS to rake in billions of dollars from America’s newly-created class of “illegally uninsured” citizens.

That hardly sounds like a plan built around “expanding coverage,” does it?

Obviously “Obamacare” isn’t going to reduce the deficit either. In fact when the actual cost of just one of the variables ignored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is calculated into the legislation, its price tag soars by nearly $208 billion (putting it $59 billion in the red).

Even "Obamacare's" worst-case deficit projections are likely to prove overly-optimistic. In 1965, for example, government accountants predicted that the hospital insurance portion of Medicaid would cost $9 billion by 1990. It wound up costing $63 billion. Even after adjusting for inflation, that’s still twice as expensive as the government originally estimated.

Earlier this month The New York Times – ostensibly seeking to build momentum for universal coverage – published a story highlighting the un-sustainability of Medicaid. The story revealed that last year, while state governments were relying on bailout money to fund skyrocketing growth rates, the program added 3.3 million new members – raising its total enrollment to 47 million. It is going broke, clearly, although that didn’t stop Obama and his Congressional allies from raiding $202 billion from its coffers (as well as $53 billion from Social Security) to make their plan appear deficit neutral.

And that may be the ultimate irony of “Obamacare” – that it is funding tomorrow’s big government obligations with the failed promises of yesterday.

Howard Rich is Chairman of Americans for Limited Government .

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