If you cannot trust government's numbers, you cannot trust government's words. This is the lesson of the House Democrats' desperate promotion of a phony-baloney Congressional Budget Office analysis of their latest health care takeover package.
Democratic leaders leaked a solid-seeming price tag -- $940 billion over 10 years -- before the CBO released any official comment or report. Liberal blogs and mainstream newswires started parroting Democrats' claims that their plan "would cut the deficit by $130 billion over the next decade, and $1.2 trillion in the second decade of the plan's implementation" -- again, before the CBO had released an iota of information, and hours before the House Rules Committee posted the long-awaited reconciliation bill.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn pronounced himself "giddy" over the supposed CBO scoring. Math lover and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proclaimed: "I love numbers. They're so precise."
But "precise" does not mean "accurate." And the most "precise" numbers can be utterly worthless. That is basically what CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf pointed out in his summary of the unofficial preliminary analysis of Demcare:
"Although CBO completed a preliminary review of legislative language prior to its release, the agency has not thoroughly examined the reconciliation proposal to verify its consistency with the previous draft. This estimate is therefore preliminary, pending a review of the language of the reconciliation proposal, as well as further review and refinement of the budgetary projections."
Translation: Garbage in, garbage out. Elmendorf's weary number crunchers know they are just more stage props in the Oba-Kabuki health care theater. Like the president's partisan donor-doctors dressed up in their White House-supplied lab coats, the CBO's statistical authorities are being exploited to lend credibility and solidity to the Democrats' legislative vaporware.
The CBO didn't release its non-report because it was finished. The agency released it because Democrats needed cover for their bogus transparency pledge to post the bill 72 hours before voting on it (which they still didn't fulfill).
The good news is that the number crunchers say they may have a real, final, useful analysis done by Sunday. The bad news is that House Democrats -- moving forward with their "deem-and-pass" trickery -- are scheduled to ram this monstrosity through by Sunday.
Pelosi touted fantasy savings from cutting Medicare waste, fraud and abuse totaling some $500 billion over the first 10 years of the Demcare plan. But House Democrats are relying on reaping massive dividends from Medicare reimbursement cuts that no one in Congress has had the courage to make. They also set aside the projected $200 billion so-called "doctor fix" to Medicare to make their math fit.
The first four years of Demcare clock in at $17 billion, which means the last six would cost a whopping $923 billion. As the CBO noted, it "does not generally provide cost estimates beyond the 10-year budget projection period" -- with second-decade projections subject to "an even greater degree of uncertainty" than its projections for the first 10 years.
Yet, over the past week, Democratic leaders blithely jiggered and re-jiggered their plan to get below a trillion-dollar spending threshold. Like the children's building-block game of Jenga, they stacked tax hikes and subsidies onto Medicare cuts and illusory savings until a rickety tower of budget deception was formed. Then they gingerly slid out the priciest pieces, rearranged them all and pushed back the spending kick-ins until the resulting edifice stood steady long enough to stay beneath 12 zeroes for a passing moment.
There's an old saying that "figures don't lie, but liars sure do figure." Every major Demcare statistic -- from the inflated number of uninsured to the politicized junk-science statistic on the number of Americans who purportedly die from lack of health insurance to the mythical savings that will come from squandering "$940 billion" -- is a single-payer-promoting figment of liberal imagination.
Mathematical corruption is ideological corruption. The health care battle -- and the battle over truth in government accounting -- is not just about health care. It's about the lies that will be used to ram through cap-and-trade, illegal alien amnesty and endless bailouts.
As Pelosi vowed last week, "Kick open that door, and there will be other legislation to follow. We'll take the country in a new direction." Yep -- straight to a red-ink-stained hell in a handbasket.
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