November 19, 2009
WASHINGTON’S NEW MATH
Only in the hallowed halls of Congress could the notion of spending vastly higher amounts of money convince so many that the net result will be a reduction in spending. But such is the conceit with the new health care bill being hammered out these days.
The new legislation to expand health care insurance will reportedly cost $849 billion. But this massive increase in government spending will, we’re told by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, reduce the federal budget deficit by $130 billion.
If $849 billion will get us $130 billion in deficit reduction, will $1.698 trillion bring us a $260 billion decline in red ink? Have we, in other words, stumbled upon a budgetary fountain of youth? Ah, if it were only that easy. But attempts at spending our way to prosperity has a long and discouraging record. We can debate the social merits of expanding health care coverage by way of colossal increases in public expenditures, but promoting it as a deficit reduction measure as well strikes us as, well, unhealthy. Progress, or apparent attempts at such, cost money. There's just no way to turn that mule into a horse.
Meantime, the last time we check, two plus two still don't equal 5, or 3. In most cities, at least.
Posted by jp at November 19, 2009 12:42 PM
Hmmm. The deficit is the topic de jour in Congress. Even Obama has climbed aboard the Deficit Reduction Express. Now, for the first time, the debate about the health care bill claims it will REDUCE the deficit. Like so much of what comes out of Washington these days, it doesn't pass the smell test.
Posted by: MarkM at November 20, 2009 3:46 AM
Equating Congress doing nothing with higher deficits goes against the historical record. Maybe it'll be different this time.
The argument is that expanded healthcare coverage will save money. Yes, it's a compelling argument in some respects. But assuming that the savings will flow directly to the federal government requires some fancy accounting footwork.
Meantime, let's consider what has happened in the past when it comes to financial projections from Congress in terms of new health care legislation. The senior drug prescription plan from a few years is one example. And the invention of Medicare/Medicaid a few generations back. Anyone want to guess how the financial projections of yore for those programs compare with what actually happened?
Posted by: JP at November 19, 2009 6:56 PM
If Congress did NOTHING - costs would be $130 Billion MORE than what they will be under this legislation.
How is that difficult to Understand?
Posted by: Hal Jordan at November 19, 2009 2:51 PM