When President Obama began his health care reform push in early 2009, he was facing a problem. He had just signed an economic stimulus bill costing roughly $800 billion and the American public was becoming increasingly concerned with mounting deficits. So, in an act of political jiu jitsu, he pressed the argument that reforming our nation's health care system was in fact essential to tackling our long-term debt.
“The cost of our health care is a threat to our economy,” Obama declared in a June 2009 speech to the American Medical Association. “It's an escalating burden on our families and businesses. It's a ticking time bomb for the federal budget. And it is unsustainable for the United States of America.”
He went on to warn, “if we fail to act, one out of every five dollars we earn will be spent on health care within a decade.” He predicted that inaction would mean government health care programs would “swamp our federal and state budgets, and impose a vicious choice of either unprecedented tax hikes, or overwhelming deficits, or drastic cuts in our federal and state budgets.”
Emphatically, he stated: “So, to say it as plainly as I can, health care is the single most important thing we can do for America's long-term fiscal health. That is a fact. That's a fact.”
Less than a year after Obama made those remarks, his health care plan became law. But two reports released this past week -- one from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services and one from the Congressional Budget Office -- demonstrate that Obamacare is having the opposite effect on the nation's fiscal health. Instead of decreasing health care spending, his plan is now projected to increase it, and the nation is no closer to tackling its long-term fiscal problems than it was before Obamacare became law.
On Wednesday, CMS actuaries released their latest projections, finding that by 2022, health spending will rise to 19.9 percent of gross domestic product — or almost exactly one out of five dollars, which is what Obama warned it would be without action. Over the course of the next decade, according to projections, the law will boost health spending by $621 billion over the next decade compared to what it otherwise would have been. That’s right – the status quo Obama derided as “unsustainable” when selling his health care program would have been less costly than what he’s currently imposing on the nation.
On Tuesday, CBO released projections finding that the nation’s debt burden would be as large as the annual output of the entire economy by 2038, or ten years sooner under alternate projects that assume Congress adjusts fiscal policies as it has in the past. That means that by the time a baby girl born today reaches high school, the nation’s debt could be surpassing current day France and Belgium, and heading toward the levels of Puerto Rico and Sudan. The only choices will then be massive tax hikes, severe spending cuts, or some combination thereof. What about Obamacare preventing this, Mr. President?