Our current unfunded entitlement liabilities run about $100 trillion.
President Obama proposes to “strengthen” Medicare through a price-fixing panel called the Independent Payments Advisory Board (IPAB).
CBO took a look at IPAB and estimated that it might save us $28 billion over the next ten years, i.e., next to nothing.
And then it took another look and lowered its estimate from next to nothing to nothing:
For 2015 and subsequent years, the IPAB is obligated to make changes to the Medicare program that will reduce spending if the rate of growth in spending per beneficiary is projected to exceed a target rate of growth linked to the consumer price index and per capita changes in nominal gross domestic product. CBO’s projections of the rates of growth in spending per beneficiary in the March 2011 baseline are below the target rates of growth for fiscal years 2015 through 2021. As a result, CBO projects that, under current law, the IPAB mechanism will not affect Medicare spending during the 2011-2021 period.
You have to admire the president: To go out and give a morally preening speech like that, with IPAB front and center, on the assumption that nobody’s reading the footnotes.