The Unsustainable Entitlement of "Obamacare"
By Howard Rich
In an era of debt-exploding bailouts and deficit-busting expansions of government, it goes without saying that America cannot afford a $1.5 trillion government-run health care plan. Of course, the massive socialized medicine boondoggle proposed by President Barack Obama is much more than just another example of government pouring billions - now trillions - of taxpayer dollars down the drain.
If that were all "Obamacare" were, it would be bad enough.
But this program is much worse because it constitutes government not only wasting vast sums of taxpayer money, but imposing artificial conditions on the free market in a deliberate effort to nationalize the health care industry. In addition to costing millions of American jobs, the creation of a government-run health care monopoly will result in higher premiums, limited options, lower quality care and a lack of innovation in the one field of human endeavor where we should strive to be as innovative as possible - namely, saving lives and improving quality of life.
While Obama continues to mislead an increasingly skeptical public on this front, U.S. Rep. Barney Frank recently admitted that the real intention of the so-called "America's Affordable Health Choices Act" was nationalization, saying that the new government-driven "public option" plan was the "best way … the only way" to achieve an eventual single payer monopoly.
The long-term costs of the plan are also much larger than anyone is willing to admit - particularly seeing as Obamacare (like nearly everything in Washington these days) is being "paid for" almost exclusively with money that doesn't exist.
How much larger are these long-term costs?
Well, according to a recent report by the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, along with its imposing debt- and deficit-busting dimensions, Obamacare would add another $9.2 trillion to the massive pile of unfunded liabilities that politicians in Washington have forced upon the American taxpayers.
In other words, it's yet another example of government writing a check that it can't possible hope to cash - one which forces additional strain on the taxpayers and sucks more life out of our economy.
And for what result? A health plan that does more harm than good?
Federal unfunded liabilities currently total a whopping $58.8 trillion - or $191,000 for every man, woman and child in America. This total includes $39.6 trillion for Medicare and Medicaid, $10.6 trillion for Social Security and $8.5 trillion for Bush's ill-conceived prescription drug benefit.
Add the unfunded liability of Obamacare to this pile and the total tab soars to a scarcely-comprehensible $68 trillion - or $226,000 for every man, woman and child in America.
Clearly, these are numbers that Obama and his allies don't want to talk about. After all, they demonstrate conclusively the numerical impossibility of funding all of Obama's new proposals simply by imposing new tax hikes on "the wealthy."
"There is no way we can pay for health care and the rest of the Obama agenda, plus get our long-term deficits under control, simply by raising taxes on the wealthy," former Clinton budget advisor Isabel V. Sawhill recently told The New York Times. "The middle class is going to have to contribute as well."
Obama has promised that 95% of Americans won't see their taxes increased "by one dime" during his administration. How, then, does he plan on bridging the short- and long-term gaps to pay for his health care plan?
Short answer? He doesn't.
Obama isn't planning on bridging these gaps, which is why you can add this to the stack of promises he probably never planned on keeping - right on top of the pledge that citizens would be able to keep their existing health care plans if that was their choice.
Whether in the immediate or distant future, America simply cannot afford Obamacare. And even if we could afford it, we should never put government in control of any industry - particularly one so vital to the pursuit of the first of our fundamental liberties, "life."
(The author is chairman of Americans for Limited Government and a contributing political writer for LFS.)
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