SOMEONE GET KRAUTHAMMER A CALCULATOR…. Maybe I just don’t understand Charles Krauthammer’s sense of humor.
Suppose someone — say, the president of United States — proposed the following: We are drowning in debt. More than $14 trillion right now. I’ve got a great idea for deficit reduction. It will yield a savings of $230 billion over the next 10 years: We increase spending by $540 billion while we increase taxes by $770 billion.
He’d be laughed out of town. And yet, this is precisely what the Democrats are claiming as a virtue of Obamacare.
And why, exactly, would this be laughable? Krauthammer doesn’t say, which is a real shame. I realize it’s a complex issue, but it’s the columnist’s job to help bring these questions into focus for readers.
Let’s try again to put this in a way Krauthammer can understand. As part of health care reform, policymakers will spend quite a bit of money to address a pressing national need, and at the same time, policymakers will also pay for the program — and then some — thereby reducing the deficit.
Is this really that difficult for conservatives to understand? Were there no Washington Post editors who could take Krauthammer aside before publication to say, “You know, Chuck, 770 minus 540 really does equal 230”?
Krauthammer went on to repeat one of the most common GOP talking points of the week.
In fact, the whole Obamacare bill was gamed to produce a favorable CBO number. Most glaringly, the entitlement it creates — government-subsidized health insurance for 32 million Americans — doesn’t kick in until 2014. That was deliberately designed so any projection for this decade would cover only six years of expenditures — while that same 10-year projection would capture 10 years of revenue. With 10 years of money inflow vs. six years of outflow, the result is a positive — i.e., deficit-reducing — number. Surprise.
The only real “surprise” here is that Krauthammer’s editors have no interest in fact-checking his columns.
Jonathan Chait, who has explained this before, once again noted this morning, “The benefits phase in slowly as do the revenues. Krauthammer’s six years of benefits/ten years of revenue canard would mean that, once fully phased in, the costs dramatically exceed the revenue. That isn’t the case. The law’s deficit-reduction effect increases over the next ten years. Health care analysts have pointed this out over and over. Yet conservatives like Krauthammer keep repeating these debunked claims. Either Krauthammer lives so deep within the right’s misinformation feedback loop that he has never heard any refutation of his false claims, or else he simply doesn’t care what’s true.”
There’s just no excuse for op-eds like this one. Obviously when dealing with an issue such as health care, there’s ample room for debate about subjective questions on goals, priorities, and principles of government. But there are also objective truths for which opinions are irrelevant.
In this case, Krauthammer is publishing a combination of demonstrable falsehoods and failures of arithmetic.