[Posted by Karl]
This week’s rollout of op-eds by Democratic heavies like Tom Daschle and Ted Kennedy were the dead giveaway. The Republicans are trying to get their own talking points together, too. But the campaign rhetoric obscures the real obstacle to the Left’s ambitions.
The Senate’s newest Democrat, Arlen Specter, said on Meet The Press last Sunday that he opposed establishing a public insurance plan to compete with private insurers (and drive them out of business), which is a key demand of the Left; over 70 House Democrats recently warned that they will not support a bill without the public plan. Sen. Chuck Schumer is trying to lure moderates with a “compromise” that would require that the public plan abide by the same rules and regulations as private plans. The are huge holes in the proposal, not least of which is that the people ultimately running the public plan can decide to change the rules later.
However, the question of whether Specter or “moderate” Republicans want to play ball with the Dems is really a secondary question. The real questions are how much a health care reform bill will cost and who is going to pay for it. Last December, the Congressional Budget Office released two comprehensive papers detailing the policy and financial options for health care reform, both of which make it abundantly clear that the Democratic proposals do not add up, while the measures that would add up are probably no more politically feasible than they were when the Clintons tried to take over healthcare.
Thus, it is no surprise that Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus is already trying to get the CBO to change its estimates. But it will be difficult for the CBO to maintain any shred of credibility if it suddenly flip-flopped on its numbers in the space of a few months. It would be doubly humiliating because the December estimates were rolled out when the CBO was still run by Peter Orszag, who is now Obama’s budget director.
As things stand today, the Democrats envision a health care reform plan and a Medicare physician payment fix that costs $1.75 trillion, but they have only $300 billion in offsetting savings and revenue on the table. The amount of creative accounting required to close that gap cannot pass the laugh test, even with the aid of the lapdog media. And that amount of dishonesty will likely shake public confidence in whatever Obama and the Democratic Congress propose.