It's sobering that 58 percent of American voters support the repeal of Obamacare just three weeks after Congress passed it, and that's probably without even realizing the extent of the tainted cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office or the tax consequences of the bill. If accurate accounting and the actual tax consequences were to be fully publicized, this nightmare would be even less popular.
The White House would disagree, of course, but don't be fooled. The newspaper The Hill reports that White House budget director Peter Orszag says the CBO numbers actually underestimate the savings from the bill.
Orszag cites two reasons. One is that "on major pieces of legislation," the CBO historically has been "too conservative rather than too optimistic" in its projections. The other is that the CBO's scoring "largely does not take into account this evolution toward paying for quality," which, Orszag thinks, "in this decade will begin to pay off."
Well, the first reason -- that the CBO historically has been "too conservative" -- says nothing about the scoring of this particular bill. We know that government estimates involving health care programs have been grossly underestimated in the past, such as the government's cost projections in 1965 that Medicare Part A would rise to $9 billion by 1990; its actual costs were $67 billion. The government's 1987 projections for the Medicaid special hospitals subsidy were underestimated by a staggering factor of more than 100; they projected annual costs to be $100 million, and they ended up being $11 billion by 1992. American voters instinctively understand this phenomenon. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed last month, Scott Rasmussen and Doug Schoen argued that the main reason Obama hasn't been able to move the skeptical public toward supporting Obamacare is that "people simply don't trust the official projections. ... Eighty-one percent of voters say it's likely the plan will end up costing more than projected."
Orszag's second reason appears to be that Obama's bureaucrats will start denying payments for treatments and procedures they deem unwarranted. That is, they'll start dictating care decisions -- something they've vehemently denied -- and they'll ration and pay only for that which they approve. So even if there are some savings here -- which is highly doubtful -- they will be achieved at the cost of patient and physician choice and the quality of care.