You’re in good company – the nation’s top budgetary scorekeeper doesn’t know either.
The Congressional Budget Office, which four years ago said Obamacare would reduce the deficit by $120 billion over 10 years, now says measuring the law’s fiscal impact is impossible because of all the changes.
“Provisions of the Affordable Care Act significantly modified existing federal programs and made changes to the Internal Revenue Code,” the office wrote in a little-noticed footnote from April. “Isolating the incremental effects of those provisions on previously existing programs and revenues four years after enactment is not possible.”
This is Congress’ own budget adviser giving the verbal equivalent of a shoulder shrug to the central question facing the most sweeping legislation in a generation.
So it’s official: The experts are unsure whether Obamacare – the largest expansion of government-subsidized health care – will reduce or increase the national debt. We’re not experts, but if we were forced to wager, we know exactly where we would place our bet.
The CBO revelation hardly instills confidence in a horribly flawed health care law that is supposed to be President Obama’s crowning achievement.
Moving the Obamacare needle from “positive” to “unknown” could be dismissed as a political maneuver, but the CBO is not a political animal.
The nonpartisan office was created specifically to give Congress the nitty-gritty – information it often doesn’t want to hear. And it has done so quite adroitly for 40 years, with independent studies proving its economic forecasts more accurate than those of either the White House or the Federal Reserve.
One would have to assume the CBO’s original estimate – which helped push fence-sitting Democrats into supporting the radical plan – was based on the best information available. Same for its estimate that Obamacare would only reduce the number of uninsureds from 47 million to 31 million, of which the CBO posits as many as one-third could be illegal aliens.
But even the CBO’s best educated-guessers can’t make heads or tails out of the rolling fiasco Obamacare has become.
The nonprofit Galen Institute, a health and tax policy researcher, says the law has undergone at least 41 significant changes since passage – 23 made unilaterally by the Obama administration, 16 through Congress and two by the Supreme Court.
And, of course, there’s the multiple missteps Obama & Co. have bumbled through since the botched rollout. The latest gaffe is the discovery that 4 million people have data discrepancies in their paperwork.
That means roughly half of all enrollees either accidentally or intentionally provided false information about their income, citizenship or other personal data. Imagine that.
Even when this law “works,” it doesn’t work.
If the CBO can’t figure out which direction this labyrinth law is headed, where are Americans worried about the nation’s fiscal health supposed to turn for guidance?
To the Democratic policy wonks and lobbyists who helped draft this abomination in secret?
To the Democratic lawmakers who rammed the law through Congress so we could “find out what’s in it”?
To the Democratic president who told us that if we liked our existing doctors and health insurance, we could keep them?
Sorry. We’ll take a rain check on that.