The Corner

Krauthammer’s Take

From last night’s Fox News All-Stars.

On the Reid health-care bill:

Where do you start? This is a really unbelievable bill.

Because the provisions that the CBO looked at are so jiggered, even though CBO’s numbers are real, it’s about an unreal assumption.

If you start with 2015, which is essentially where the benefits start, and you go into the future, every ten years you will have a plan that is not [costing] $800 billion. It will be [costing] $1.5 trillion. Which means that except for the early years — in which there are no benefits paid out and a lot of taxes paid in — you’re going to have a huge net deficit which will probably be around half a trillion every decade.

Secondly, even if you had the revenue neutrality, which you won’t, everybody assumes: Well, that is going to help us economically. In fact, to achieve revenue neutrality, you have to increase taxes, and you’re going to have to have spending cuts.

Those increases in taxes, and cuts in spending, are now not available in reducing the other deficits outside of health care which are going to amount to $9 trillion over the next decade.

So you create a new entitlement, you support it with new taxes and spending cuts which you cannot now use in reducing the outside — the other — deficits, which are destroying the dollar and the federal budget.

… Of all the ways in which you can raise revenue, in the Reid bill it’s done with raising the payroll tax in the middle of a recession with over 10 percent unemployment — exactly at a time when you want to encourage employment and lower the payroll tax. It’s perverse.

On the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s mammogram recommendations:

People are reacting as if we never had a panel or a recommendation before. Years before, we had a recommendation from a panel like this who said start at age 40. Every day the FDA is deciding this new drug is a good one or not — and if it’s not, you don’t ever see it.

So it is not as if these kinds of independent commissions don’t exist and determine what we get and what we don’t. So the issue here is not panels in general or recommendations in general, it’s the recommendation in and of itself.

… And the problem here is a mammogram is extremely inaccurate. One in ten tests which are returned as cancer are not, so you have a 10 percent false positive, which causes not just anxiety and suffering, but new tests, more [diagnostic] radiation, even a [surgical] procedure, and perhaps other harms …

And the balance of this is — how much that is worth [vs.] how many … real cancers are caught.

So when you have inexact tests and inexact screenings, you have to make a determination and decide how to balance them. I think the report is a fairly good recommendation. It’s not aimed at saving money. It would, but that’s not what its recommendations are based on.

NRO Staff — Members of the National Review Online editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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