Massaging the Numbers

The worst part about modern politics is the lengths that politicians will go through just to convince those unwilling to use logic and facts that they are telling the truth.  And further, when they attempt to use fallacies to bolster these claims even though a little fact checking will counter them pretty quickly.  But beyond that, when the organizations we depend upon to do this legwork for us are just either too lazy or too self-interested to give it a good honest try.

And so it goes with the constant assertion we hear that health care reform is going to ‘lower our national deficit’.  Most people with common sense will immediately question this claim, because history has shown us that this just is never the case with the government managing something.  Government is politics and when politics get involved, it always costs more money. 

However, when you have an administration that has no scruples and is willing to lie directly to the American people as this one has done on several occasions, and who have the backing of the media in this endeavor, it will be years before people finally realize what was done to them and by then, of course, it will be too late. 

But, for those who do have common sense but are baffled as to how the administration can keep saying that they are going to cut the deficit by 1 trillion dollars while paying for 15 million new people’s healthcare (and eventually another 185 million), let’s go through just how they have gone about this so that hopefully you will be able to identify the tactics in the future.

Now to begin with, where does the president get this figure?  He is taking it from the Congressional Budget Office.  The CBO is a nonpartisan group that is responsible for evaluating legislation and then determining the eventual economic impact of that legislation.  That sounds great, except that the CBO is still a government agency and, more importantly, must abide by specific rules while evaluating legislation.  It is knowing and working within these rules that the administration has acted dishonestly in order to push through legislation that they know will not do what they claim.

One of the areas that congress was told would not lead to deficit neutrality was what has been called the ‘doc fix’ by those in the know.  This is a permanent change to the way doctors are reimbursed for Medicare claims.  This was originally in the legislation but was removed when the CBO warned that, when combined with the rest of the healthcare package, it “would increase the budget deficit in 2019 by $23 billion relative to current law, an increment that would grow in subsequent years.”  So, what was the answer?  The democrats removed the section from the legislation and then passed it on its own.  So, because this is no longer in the legislation, it is not evaluated, even though we already know that once this goes into effect it will result in the same outcome, increasing the deficit.  The CBO has since warned about this but because of their rules they are not allowed to include this information in evaluating the actual healthcare bill.

As you can see, manipulating the CBO, once you know the rules, are easy games that the politicians play.  Because they are not interested in the final outcome matching what they say, they are interested in increasing power to their political party and passing their agenda at all costs.  Honesty is just not a priority, just as liberty and freedom are words they read in a speech while trying to attain the power they work towards.

Of course, that was not the only example, or even the worst.  Another rule is that the CBO must take congress at its word about future, unspecified, cuts in spending.  The legislation mentions that spending will be cut but doesn’t mention how or where, but because it will be cut the CBO has to accept that in its evaluation.  And did they promise some cuts!  Lots and lots of cuts, around $300 Billion, which we all know will NEVER EVER HAPPEN.  The CBO, to their credit, has issues supplemental warnings about this and what would happen if those cuts don’t take place as promised, but those don’t make it into the president’s speeches for some reason.

But wait, there’s more!  In addition to having to evaluation only the specific piece of legislation and having to accept as fact future unspecified budget cuts promised, the CBO can only evaluate the effects of legislation 10 years out from the date of passage.  This is why, in the legislation, it starts collecting for the programs years before any spending takes place and then kicks in to high gear on the spending phase just as that buffer starts to get depleted.  What happens when that clock catches up is beyond the limits of what the CBO can, by their own rules, evaluate.

Of course, this is all trivial considering the history of what government programs end up really costing as opposed to what they are proposed to cost.  Looking at the promised costs of Social Security, Medicare, the Iraq War, just to name a few and comparing them to what the true eventual costs were can leave someone scratching their heads. 

And none of this has anything to do with the political ramifications of what is being discussed.  For example, the blatant unconstitutionality of requiring every single American to be covered under a health insurance plan?  Or the fact that we already have the US government paying for over 50% of our health care with the government spending $1,000 more, per person, for health care than the Canadians do, for example.  Or even the fact that insulating individuals even MORE from the results of their own actions and needs with insurance costs based not on their lifestyles but on how much they make is ensuring that we will become less and less healthy without further governmental action into our lives to tell us how to eat, sleep, drink and live…

And to be honest, that is where I think this is really headed.  Once we buy in that we are all costing each other (and the government) money by how we live, the government will determine that it has an authority to ensure that those costs are mitigated by passing laws restricting how we choose to live our lives.

Definitely NOT a view of freedom and liberty that millions have sacrificed their lives over the years for us to enjoy.