Snow jobs for the record books

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Cal Thomas

There were two snow jobs in Wash­ing­ton over the Dec. 19-20 week­end. One came from the sky as a record De­cem­ber snow­fall blan­keted the city. The other came from Capi­tol Hill where the Se­nate la­bored to cover up the real ef­fects of its mas­sive health care “re­form“ bill.

All you need to know about this mon­stros­ity is con­tained in a para­graph from Page 4 of the Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice’s 21-page let­ter to Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid: “Ac­cord­ing to CBO and [the Joint Com­mit­tee on Tax­a­tion’s] as­sess­ment, en­act­ing the Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act with the man­ager’s amend­ment would re­sult in a net re­duc­tion in fed­eral bud­get deficits of $132 bil­lion over the 2010-2019 pe­riod. In the sub­se­quent decade, the col­lec­tive ef­fect of its pro­vi­sions would prob­a­bly be con­tin­ued re­duc­tions in fed­eral bud­get deficits if all of the pro­vi­sions con­tin­ued to be fully im­ple­mented. Those es­ti­mates are sub­ject to sub­stan­tial un­cer­tainty.”

So un­cer­tain are they that the CBO later no­ticed an er­ror in its cal­cu­la­tions and a day later on Sun­day de­liv­ered an­other let­ter to Se­nate leaders that said: “Cor­rect­ing that er­ror has no im­pact on the es­ti­mated ef­fects of the leg­is­la­tion dur­ing the 2010-2019 pe­riod. How­ever, the cor­rec­tion re­duces the de- gree to which the leg­is­la­tion would lower fed­eral deficits in the decade af­ter 2019.”

The pub­lic is be­ing asked to swal­low a bill that most se­na­tors haven’t read, con­tains cost pro­jec­tions that are sub­stan­tially un­cer­tain, and touts out­comes that can be rea­son­ably pre­dicted to be noth­ing that re­sem­bles what Democrats are promis­ing.

Sen. Ben Nel­son, Ne­braska Demo­crat and a sup­pos­edly staunch pro-lifer, agreed to vote for the bill af­ter, as The Wash­ing­ton Post put it, he got “abor­tion lan­guage” he wanted and “also se­cured other fa­vors for his home state.” That’s what it’s ul­ti­mately about — get­ting fa­vors for your home state so you can be re-elected. Re-elec­tion trumps the Con­sti­tu­tion and the will of the peo­ple, most of whom op­pose the Se­nate and House health care “re­form” bills.

Even one’s stand on a moral is­sue like abor­tion can be com­pro­mised for the right deal. In­sert­ing lan­guage that sup­pos­edly re­stricts fed­eral fund­ing of abor­tion in or­der to pro­vide po- lit­i­cal cover to Mr. Nel­son turns out to be a sham. Ac­cord­ing to House Mi­nor­ity Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio, whose of­fice wrote a cri­tique of Mr. Reid’s 383-page Man­ager’s Amend­ment, “Every­one en­rolled in th­ese [health] plans must pay a monthly abor­tion pre­mium and th­ese funds will be used to pay for the elec­tive abor­tion ser­vices. The Reid amend­ment di­rects in­sur­ance com­pa­nies to as­sess the cost of elec­tive abor­tion cov­er­age and charge a min- imum of $1 per en­rollee ev­ery month.”

Some de­fend­ers of this deal ar­gue that fed­eral money will be mag­i­cally seg­re­gated when it comes to abor­tion and that money go­ing to abor­tion providers will be for other “ser­vices.” Even if this were true — and there is lit­tle truth com­ing out of Wash­ing­ton th­ese days — that is like say­ing the gov­ern­ment won’t pay for the ac­tual pro­ce­dure, but it will sub­si­dize other costs, such as the elec­tric bill and the rent on the clinic’s of­fice space.

Repub­li­cans have done a good job high­light­ing the mul­ti­ple flaws in the Se­nate bill (and the sim­i­larly long House bill). Most im­por­tantly for se­niors, the Se­nate bill slashes hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars from Medi­care to pay for a new gov­ern­ment pro­gram. It in­cludes mas­sive tax in­creases on in­di­vid­u­als and busi­nesses, which means busi­nesses are un­likely to hire work­ers at a time of dou­ble-digit un­em­ploy­ment. It in­cludes a mas­sive new en­ti­tle­ment pro­gram — the CLASS Act (short for Com­mu­nity Liv­ing As­sis­tance and Sup­port Ser­vices) — which Bud­get Com­mit­tee Chair­man Sen. Kent Con­rad, North Dakota Demo­crat, has de­scribed as “a Ponzi scheme of the first or­der” and which was re­cently op­posed by a bi­par­ti­san ma­jor­ity, in­clud­ing 11 Democrats.

To their credit, Repub­li­cans have stood to­gether in op­po­si­tion to this health care fi­asco. Their pledge to vot­ers in the Novem­ber 2010 elec­tion should be to re­peal the mea­sure and to of­fer real in­sur­ance and health care re­form that will not in­clude an abor­tion pro­vi­sion, new taxes, more en­ti­tle­ments and a big­ger bu­reau­cracy.

Yes, it can be done.

Cal Thomas is a na­tion­ally syndicated colum­nist.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.