History will remember how often and adamantly President Barack Obama insisted that the socialized medicine law he signed last week would reduce the federal deficit. It will be his defining lie.
"This legislation will also lower costs for families and for businesses and for the federal government, reducing our deficit by over $1 trillion in the next two decades," Obama said when he signed the bill on March 23. "It is paid for; it is fiscally responsible."
Two days later, he repeated the claim at the University of Iowa. "Costs will come down for families and businesses and the federal government, reducing our deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next two decades," he said.
Americans wisely do not believe him. A Gallup poll released on Tuesday asked people whether the federal budget deficit would "get better, not change or get worse" as a result of Obamacare. Sixty-one percent said it would get worse, and 14 percent said it would not change.
An honest look at the Congressional Budget Office analysis of the total health care package backs the commonsense conclusion of the average American.
On March 19, two days before the House voted to enact the Senate health care bill and a companion reconciliation bill to make alterations in the Senate bill, the CBO sent a letter to Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, responding to his question about the combined budgetary impact of these two bills plus an associated bill to adjust the Medicare payment rates for doctors that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has vowed to enact.
The bill to adjust the Medicare payment rates for doctors is needed because, under current law, those rates are set to suddenly plunge by 21 percent in April. After that, they are set to decline by about 2 percent per year for the next decade.
These dramatic cuts are the result of a gimmick members of Congress wrote into earlier budgets: They mandated that doctors' fees suddenly drop by one-fifth as a way of making the deficit spending they were voting for seem less than it was. They always knew they would repeal the dramatic fee cuts before they actually hit. Like Obama's claim that the health care bill will reduce the deficit by $1 trillion, these phantom fee cuts were a lie.
So, what is the impact on the deficit when the Senate health care bill, the reconciliation bill to fix the Senate health care bill and the bill to fix the phantom reductions in doctors' fees are all considered together?