Just five weeks after the president of the United States signed Obamacare into law, it already resembles an overweight airplane lumbering down the tarmac, poised to crash and burn soon after takeoff. Obamacare’s excess cargo of broken promises threatens such a catastrophe.
“The plan I’m announcing tonight,” Pres. Barack Obama promised a joint session of Congress last September 9, “will slow the growth of health-care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.”
Not so fast, warns Medicare’s Office of the Actuary. In a devastating, independent, 38-page analysis released on April 22, chief actuary Richard Foster forecast, “The growth rate reductions from productivity adjustments are unlikely to be sustainable on a permanent annual basis. . . . We show a negligible financial impact over the next 10 years for the other provisions intended to help control future health care cost growth.”
“This is an objective report by administration actuaries that shows this sweeping legislation has serious, serious problems,” says health-policy analyst Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute. Foster’s study delineates the canyon between Obama’s warm words and the chilly disappointment that awaits those who expect Obamacare to do good.
“We will have a health-care plan that actually works for you, reduces spending and costs over the long term,” Obama promised at the October 7, 2008, presidential debate, among other appearances.
In fact, Foster calculates, Obamacare will boost U.S. health spending by $311 billion through 2019, while federal medical outlays will grow “by a net total of $251 billion.”
“If you like your health-care plan, you will be able to keep your health-care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what,” Obama promised the American Medical Association last June 15, and on numerous other occasions.
This guarantee will turn to dust, Foster predicts. “Some smaller employers would be inclined to terminate their existing coverage,” he explains. Elsewhere, “the penalties would not be a substantial deterrent to dropping or forgoing coverage.” Thanks to these and similar factors, “we estimate that such actions would collectively reduce the number of people with employer-sponsored health coverage by about 14 million.”
“I can make a firm pledge,” Obama told Dover, N.H., voters on September 12, 2008. “Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital-gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”
Obamacare’s first ten years of operations would cost $2.5 trillion. This massive new expenditure, plus Washington’s other spendaholic commitments, explains Obama’s eagerness to jettison his oft-repeated commitment not to raise taxes on Americans who earn less than $250,000 annually.
To finance Obamacare and their other pricey projects, many Washington Democrats crave a national sales tax. Obamacare already features $569 billion in new taxes on — among other things — prescription drugs, medical devices, health-insurance plans, and even tanning salons. These levies will trickle down to couples with annual incomes below $250,000 and individuals with incomes under $200,000. Rather than keep his promise, Obama triumphantly signed these health-related tax hikes.
Regarding a national sales levy — atop the income tax and countless tributes that tread on Americans with cleated boots — Obama refuses to reject it. In fact, Americans for Tax Reform noted Obama’s remarks as he introduced his deficit commission on Tuesday: “It’s important that we not restrict the review or the recommendations that this commission comes up with in any way. Everything has to be on the table.”
After all this hassle and expense, Richard Foster concludes, “an estimated 23 million people . . . would remain uninsured in 2019.”
Before Obamacare gets airborne, only to plow swiftly into a nearby cornfield, this Congress — or a clean one elected next November — urgently must cancel this flight, disembark its enraged passengers, and replace this rust bucket with a viable aircraft.
– Deroy Murdock is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.