by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
During a rant against Republican intransigence, Obama said that he could tackle the deficit tomorrow if his opponents would agree to raise taxes and “were willing to take on some of the long-term costs that we have on health care.”
Wasn’t last year’s federal health care reform law supposed to meet that cost-cutting goal? That prospect certainly was touted as a selling point for ObamaCare.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimated that, all told, the law would actually increase America’s spending on health care as a share of the economy by more than if we simply had done nothing to address the problem.
Beyond this, there were opportunity costs involved in Obama’s approach. The law raised taxes and made cuts to Medicare, but instead of using the money for deficit reduction, it was plowed into a new entitlement. The health care law will spend nearly $1.4 trillion in its first eight years of full implementation alone (2014 to 2021), according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The president now says that the chief barrier to tackling the debt is that Republicans in Congress won’t agree to a “balanced approach” of tax increases and spending cuts. But when his party controlled Congress, with a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, Obama didn’t push for the kind of deficit-reduction plan he now claims to support.
Instead, he squandered 13 months of his presidency pushing the health care legislation.
“I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last,” Obama vowed in his September 2009 health care speech before a joint session of Congress.
That Obama is now talking about the need “take on” long-term health care costs, even after passing his law, is an admission of what many of us already knew: Obamacare was never about reducing health care spending.