Paul Krugman, columnist for the New York Times, published a web-article on Sunday entitled, “The War on Logic.” In his article he questions the logic that speaker of the House, John Boehner (who totally looks like this game character, by the way), and his followers seem to have in regards to healthcare reform, based on a recent analysis published by Boehner’s office.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the Republicans have been busy with the repealing of healthcare reform. Recently, however, the Congressional Budget Office has mentioned that repealing the reform will actually increase our budget deficit. The speaker and his followers, always so quick to dismiss the concerns of others when they don’t jive with their opinions, calls this finding, “their opinion.” I’m sorry, how would the Congressional Benefit Office benefit from falsely claiming the effects of repealing healthcare reform? But whatever, that’s their opinion to, and they’re entitled to it.
In Paul’s article he compares the Republican’s logic behind the cost of healthcare reform to going out to dinner. In his analogy he states that going out to dinner with his wife will actually cost more than just the final bill once he factors in his mortgage payment. Now that doesn’t make sense does it? But when you look at Boehner’s logic it turns out to be the same. In the analysis his office filed he claims the cost of healthcare reform is going to cost several times more than what other, proponents, have indicated.
When you get down to it you find the reason for this discrepancy is that he included the cost of things that need to be done with or without reform. For example, the 1997 Medicare payments to physicians formula is out of whack and can lead to doctors being paid to little for them to be enticed to accept Medicare. Instead of changing the formula, as they should have done from the beginning, over the past decade they’ve instituted a series of one-year fixes. It has been calculated that continuing these fixes over the next decade will cost upwards of $208 billion, an amount they feel should be added to the bill of healthcare reform. The analysis is littered with additional fixes totalling $115 billion which they say should also be tacked on. These are things that would need to be done even if we weren’t even talking about healthcare reform, so how can those be included. I can tell you how, it’s all in an effort to discredit the benefits of healthcare reform, make it look stupidly expensive and everyone will be against it. BRILLIANT!
The budget office claims that healthcare reform would actually increase Social Security revenues and reduce Medicare costs. That sounds entirely logical to me, fix the problems and costs go down. But in a further effort to give reform a black eye, the analysis claims that these findings don’t count, as the savings will extend the life of these programs’ trust funds and counting them as deficit reduction would be “double-counting.” What?!?
What else have we got here? “Relies on accounting gimmicks that mask its true cost to taxpayers.” Really? Sounds more like they don’t understand accounting principles and, like a peasant watching a magician, claims its wizardry.
The analysis continues to indicate that the Budget Office determined that the healthcare laws would reduce the “amount of labor used in the economy by…roughly half a percent…” hard to tell what the ellipses left out in the middle and end as they don’t list a reference to anywhere the Budget Office actually said this. They then conclude that, based on recent unemployment data, this would add up to 650,000 jobs lost. Who? Who’s jobs? I don’t know, because they seem to be leaving out details to keep it vague.
Having said all this, there is something in the analysis that I actually do agree with, the problems inherent with the Employer Mandate. While I think it’s good that this could help get healthcare to people who may not otherwise be able to afford it. This shouldn’t be falling on the backs of businesses. Many small businesses (especially restaurants, with their razor-thin profit margins) just simply can’t afford to provide healthcare for all of their employees. In this case, if they don’t, they end up paying a penalty. This could spell destruction for many a small business that are already on a tight budget. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked for my fair share of small businesses that offered no health insurance and now work for a larger organization that does, and it’s amazing. If this mandate is left in place we could see the end of a lot great businesses, such as White Castle, who was specifically mentioned in the analysis. I don’t joke around, if White Castle were to go under I would be extremely heartbroken. Alternately, some employers, in an effort to stay in business, could do a couple of things to be able to afford compliance, none of which would be good. Cut pay: don’t need that right now, cut workforce: definitely don’t need that, or raise prices to consumers: which could cause a major reduction in business.
Paul goes on, in his article, to state that the reason for the Republican’s hesitance towards reform has nothing to do with a deficit, nothing to do with unemployment and everything to do with covering the uninsured. That the current Republicans don’t think that the government should be concerned with the suffering of the unfortunate and that remedying that suffering at taxpayer expense is immoral. But they couldn’t come out and actually say that though, they would have sounded like heartless bastards. Instead they threw a report together stuffed with goofy, nonsensical arguments and incoherent charts then shoved it out to everyone to scare them into ignoring our nation’s healthcare issue.
- How Republicans May Be Overplaying Their Hand (money.usnews.com)
- Healthcare law repeal clears hurdle in House (reuters.com)