It is only fitting that, as the final votes are garnered for ObamaCare, one last insult to the intelligence of voters and lawmakers is unveiled. Republicans pressed CBO on how much the bill would cost with the Medicare Doc Fix included. You recall that this measure to increase reimbursement rates to Medicare providers was artificially severed from the bill when it became too difficult (even for the numbers fudgers) to make the books balance with that item in ObamaCare. So it was sent to a separate piece of legislation to be voted on later this year. This report explains:
Congressional budget scorekeepers say a Medicare fix that Democrats included in earlier versions of their health care bill would push it into the red. The Congressional Budget Office said Friday that rolling back a programmed cut in Medicare fees to doctors would cost $208 billion over 10 years. If added back to the health care overhaul bill, it would wipe out all the deficit reduction, leaving the legislation $59 billion in the red.
When pressed by Bret Baier on the fiscal gamesmanship in separating out the Doc Fix, Obama offered no stellar answer. To be fair, there is none. This is cook-the-books legislating at its worst. The exchange was revealing:
BAIER: And you call this deficit neutral, but you also set aside the doctor fix, more than $200 billion. People look at this and say, how can it be deficit neutral?
OBAMA: But the – as you well know, the doctors problem, as you mentioned, the “doctors fix,” is one that has been there four years now. That wasn’t of our making, and that has nothing to do with my health care bill. If I was not proposing a health care bill, right – let’s assume that I had never proposed health care.
BAIER: But you wanted to change Washington, Mr. President. And now you’re doing it the same way.
OBAMA: Bret, let me finish my – my answers here. Now, if suddenly, you’ve got, over the last decade, a problem that’s been built up. And the suggestion is somehow that, because that’s not fixed within this bill, that that’s a reason to vote against the bill, that doesn’t make any sense. That’s a problem that I inherited. That was a problem that should have been solved a long time ago. It’s a problem that needs to be solved, but it’s not created by my bill. And I don’t think you would dispute that.
Translation: it’s not his fault. Got that?
Well, the issue boiled over on Friday when a purported Democratic strategy memo was leaked that essentially told members and staff to hush up about the Doc Fix. The memo’s authenticity was questioned, but the strategy is plainly right out of the Democratic playbook. As Yuval Levin explains, the hodgepodge of accounting tricks and “keeping the ‘doc fix’ separate from the health-care bills they are getting ready to vote on was key to allowing the Democrats to get a CBO score that seemed to keep the bill from raising the deficit.” It’s a Ponzi scheme of the first order. And they only need a few more votes to pass it.
Throughout this process, we’ve seen in what low regard the president and Congressional leaders hold the public and their own members. The Doc Fix is only the latest and perhaps final insult. But on a brighter note, Minority Leader John Boehner is forcing all members to announce their votes from the floor. How dramatic and transparent! Moreover, it will make for dandy ads against all the Democrats who decided to walk the plank for Obama and Pelosi. You can see them now — all the grainy photos interspersed with big red numbers tallying the addition to the deficit as a voiceover announcer explains it was all an exercise in smoke and mirrors accounting. This is how wave elections are made.