Pork is the preferred metaphor in Washington for misspending. But last weekend, pork took a backseat to baloney, which was present in abundance as President Obama and House Democrats tried to convince the public -- and themselves -- that their takeover of one-sixth of the economy is going to improve health insurance and the availability of medical treatment.
The biggest laugher was the promise to save $500 billion (the current annual cost of the Medicare program) over the next 10 years by cutting waste, fraud and abuse. Democrats used to accuse Republicans of wanting to bump off seniors when they proposed Medicare reforms. Now that they claim to be doing it, they declare themselves righteous.
As Lloyd Brown writes for the Web site "American Thinker": "Medicare cost $3 billion in 1966. In what it called a conservative estimate, the House Ways and Means Committee that year projected Medicare would cost $12 billion after inflation by 1990. The actual cost in 1990: $107 billion."
Medicare costs doubled every four years between 1966 and 1980 because the population grew older and politicians added promises. Politicians want us to believe their inability to control spending and add-ons is over and they'll go on the spending wagon while still protecting the elderly. Puh-leeze!
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In remarks to the House Democratic caucus, Obama claimed the bill would reduce the deficit by $1.3 trillion. He must know that isn't true because the money "saved" from Medicare cuts will go to pay for new spending.
Addressing critics of the bill, Obama said no one is "going to pull the plug on Grandma." They won't have to. The opposition believes Grandma will be denied treatment because she's too much of a financial burden on government. It's called rationing. Is that why the president emphasizes sick children? Will children be the only ones to get the best treatment? Rahm Emanuel's brother, Ezekiel, has said government has a right to decide how many health-care dollars you are worth. If children with a lifelong taxpaying potential are worth more than Grandma who is taking more from the tax pot than she is contributing, too bad for Grandma.
The president also said the bill will save money by requiring only one test by the doctor, "not five tests." But what if the first test doesn't reveal the nature of an illness? Suppose a cancer is hiding in one organ and the test is for cancer in another organ? A second (or fifth) test might reveal the location of the disease, but under Obamacare, a government bureaucrat will allow just one test.
The president promised again "you can keep your doctor." But the doctor might retire because he or she can't afford to accept reduced fees mandated by government while paying ever-increasing premiums for malpractice insurance to protect him or her from lawsuits, which, by the way, is another reason so many tests are ordered.
Government-run health care has been tried in Massachusetts ... and it's a disaster. According to Peter Suderman, associate editor at Reason magazine, "since 2006, the cost of the state's insurance program has ballooned by 42 percent, or almost $600 million. According to an analysis by the Rand Corporation, 'in the absence of policy change, health-care spending in Massachusetts is projected to nearly double to $123 billion in 2020, increasing 8 percent faster than the state's gross domestic product.'"
Insurance costs in Massachusetts are the highest in the nation and double-digit rate increases are expected again this year. Yet, President Obama claimed Saturday that under the Democrats' plan, rates would go down. How is this possible? The only reason Massachusetts hasn't become insolvent is because of large transfusions of cash from Washington, which perpetuates the illusion the program works.
This legislation is so full of budget gimmicks, tricks and lies, it will make health care in America worse, not better.
Contact Thomas, a syndicated columnist, at email@example.com.