The Corner

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Breaking the Bank


In this morning’s Washington Post, OMB director Peter Orszag and White House health-reform czar Nancy-Ann DeParle try their best to answer some of the criticism of Obamacare on fiscal grounds. Reading their op-ed, you just have to assume the two of them (and especially Orszag, who used to be a straight-shooting budget hawk) had to swallow pretty hard before putting their names on it. Their strained logic and contradictory examples mostly highlight the extent to which the Democrats’ approach to health care has moved away from the essential question of costs in the course of this year-long slow-motion implosion.

My favorite sentence in the piece would have to be this one: “Some fiscal hawks like us have also contended that we should scrap comprehensive health reform altogether and focus on ‘cost first’ — devoting the savings now used mostly for coverage expansions to deficit reduction instead.”

To think for a moment about what the “like us” is supposed to mean in that sentence is to marvel at the despair that Democratic budget hawks must be feeling these days. But surely the most striking feature of the piece is its sheer disconnection from reality, which my Ethics and Public Policy Center colleague Jim Capretta ably lays out here.