The GAO has also been ordered to produce audits on the effect of Obamacare on health insurance premiums. This is likely to reveal that the president did not keep his promise that you could keep your current health insurance if you want to.
And there will be an audit of the comparative effectiveness bureaucracy established in the 2009 stimulus package. Comparative effectiveness is supposedly an objective study of which medical techniques are most effective. But anyone who looks closely finds that the experts are constantly changing their minds, which suggests that this is more alchemy than science -- and maybe political favoritism, as well.
All of which tends to undercut the thrust of Obama's obviously-aimed-at-the-2012-campaign message: We can continue to fund Medicare and Medicaid indefinitely if we just tax rich people a little more.
Serious budget experts of all stripes know this is fantasy. Obama's fiscal commission, which issued its report last December, recognized this clearly, and recommended a package of spending cuts, program changes and tax increases to address the long-term fiscal dilemma.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, in his budget resolution that passed the House Friday, put forward a package of changes that included giving the states block grants for Medicaid and replacing the current Medicare fee-for-service with the kind of premium support recommended by the bipartisan Medicare commission more than a decade ago -- all without tax increases.
The voters, in current polls as well as in the elections last November, sent the policymakers down these paths. Obama on the one hand allows congressional Democrats to negotiate packages like the 2011 budget deal that go in that direction -- and at the same time says, incoherently and without detail, that we don't need to go there at all.
In all this he is acting on the assumptions that Americans will accept a permanently enlarged and more expensive government and that the details don't much matter.
The 2010 elections refuted the first assumption. Now we'll see about the second.
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