"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Cost of Obamacare

The CBO released a new estimate of the cost of Obamacare that Philip Klein helpfully explains:

Democrats employed many accounting tricks when they were pushing through the national health care legislation, the most egregious of which was to delay full implementation of the law until 2014, so it would appear cheaper under the CBO's standard ten-year budget window and, at least on paper, meet Obama's pledge that the legislation would cost "around $900 billion over 10 years." When the final CBO score came out before passage, critics noted that the true 10 year cost would be far higher than advertised once projections accounted for full implementation.

Today, the CBO released new projections from 2013 extending through 2022, and the results are as critics expected: the ten-year cost of the law's core provisions to expand health insurance coverage has now ballooned to $1.76 trillion. That's because we now have estimates for Obamacare's first nine years of full implementation, rather than the mere six when it was signed into law. Only next year will we get a true ten-year cost estimate, if the law isn't overturned by the Supreme Court or repealed by then. Given that in 2022, the last year available, the gross cost of the coverage expansions are $265 billion, we're likely looking at about $2 trillion over the first decade, or more than double what Obama advertised.

Of course, the real answer is.... we have no idea what the cost is going to be.   We have no idea how people are going to react when the law goes into effect in 2014, how businesses are going to react.   The unintended consequences of this monstrosity -- the Catholic institutions' birth control flap was only the tip of the iceberg -- are, tautologically, unpredictable.

The cost in terms of Americans' freedom is, sadly, all too predictable.   To mix metaphors, Leviathan slouches toward Bethlehem. 

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