July 28, 2009

The Curious Case of the Omitted Admission

Hatched by Dafydd

The Congressional Budget Office -- in a futile attempt to make up for outing the real costs of ObamaCare in a previous report -- has just attempted to push the program forward by asserting that the existence of a "government option" wouldn't cause any real mischief:

President Obama and his Democratic allies, scrambling to broker a health care deal Monday, finally got an upbeat assessment from Congress' official scorekeeper when it said the plan for government-run coverage would not force out private insurers.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer trumpeted the report from the Congressional Budget Office, Congress' nonpartisan budget analyst, that said private insurers could survive competition from a government health insurance option -- contradicting a chief criticism from Republicans.

"Now we've heard that the reform will represent a government takeover of health care. A point of fact: The opposite is true," said Mr. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat. [No mere opinion here -- the CBO has a Magic 8-Ball that actually works!]

(On a completely unrelated side-issue, last week President Barack H. "Lucky Lefty" Obama summoned the CBO's director, Douglas Elmendorf, to la Casa Blanca for a meet-the-Obamacle meeting last week... just after he testified that ObamaCare wouldn't save a dime and would probably cost more than just doing nothing. He reportedly left the meeting carrying a package that turned out to contain a dead fish.)

But the most delicious part is a left-handed admission from the CBO of just how much power such a government option would put in the president's hand:

Republicans touted a report from theLewin Group, a health research firm owned by an insurance company, that predicted 100 million people out of the 160 million now covered by employer-sponsored insurance would go to the government coverage.

But the CBO estimates about 12 million people would opt for the public plan. The wide difference in estimates is the result of drastically different assumptions about the price of the plans. CBO estimated the public plan would cost 10 percent less than private plans, compared with the Lewin Group estimate that it would be 20 percent cheaper.

So if I may translate: What CBO is really saying is that the administration -- that is, Barack Obama -- has the power to forcibly shift up to 100 million people from the insurance they have now (and for the most part like) to the parallel government-run health-care system... merely by increasing the taxpayer subsidy of the government plan from 10% to 20%.

At any moment after passage, the president could unilaterally squeeze that trigger, without any subsequent congressional action required, and voilà: Two-thirds of those who currently have employer-offered insurance will be ejected, higgledy-piggledy, from their current plans and shoehorned into a British- or Canadian-style, government-run, ration-and-wait plan... whether they want it or not.

Thank goodness Mr. Obama is the One We Have Been Waiting For; if he weren't, if he were a lesser mortal, he might just squeeze that trigger. And then where would we be?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 28, 2009, at the time of 7:29 PM

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