The Corner

Krauthammer’s Take

On the CBO score of the Senate health-care bill:

That CBO estimate is completely wrong, and when Obama cites it, he is being completely cynical.

Number one, the only reason it ends up with a surplus is because it strips out — well, it assumes that there will be cuts in reimbursements for doctors of 21 percent next year with no increase over a decade. It’s 100 percent certain that is not going to happen, but it’s in the bill because [there will be] will be a separate provision that will strip it out. So once you calculate that in, you’re already in the red.

Secondly, and this is the most important, it supposedly costs $850 billion over ten years. But 98 percent of the costs of the bill are in the last six years. So it’s a trick. If you actually look at real charges, you start in 2014 when the benefits kick in and you go out ten years, then the cost is not slightly under $1 trillion. It is $1.8 trillion or $2.5 trillion, which means it will blow an enormous hole in the deficit.

And everybody knows this. We heard Michael Steele say earlier, he’s the head of the RNC, that these numbers are cooked because the head of the CBO was brought into the White House — I wish he hadn’t said that, because that’s not the reason. You don’t have to corrupt the CBO. It’s not. It’s very honest.

You cook the books by presenting the assumption that the CBO is required to assume will happen — but what everybody understands is not going to happen. That’s why the ostensible CBO number looks good. The real number is devastatingly in deficit. …

On the dealmaking with Sen. Ben Nelson to get the 60 votes:

That’s what is so ironic about this. Remember the whole impetus of the bill was the moral imperative of insuring the uninsured, an act of compassion.

What Harry Reid is saying after he gets this monstrosity through the Senate is that if your senator[s] [were] uncorrupt in achieving it, they are going to suffer [politically] and they were naïve. . . .

I find it interesting how Lieberman was excoriated and Nelson was celebrated by the left, especially, and the Democrats. Look, if you want to hold out on a matter of principle or policy, as Lieberman did on the matter of the public option (saying it would be unaffordable), and you get it [the policy change) by holding up the process, that’s called a deal. And that is a concession over a policy issue that applies to everybody in the country.

But what Nelson got — this unbelievable deal in which all the other states get three years of the federal government assuming the cost of extra Medicaid enrollees, but after that, all the other states have to chip in except Nebraska. It is the Nebraska exception. Now, that is simple corruption.

And yet what he does is countenanced as okay. In fact, Reid hails it as real good legislating, and what Lieberman did is excoriated as a betrayal. It shows you how the values of all this, which started out as a high-minded crusade on behalf of the unfortunate, [have] been twisted in a fairly radical way.

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