By Rep. Rich Cebra
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree has some explaining to do.
On March 14, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) revealed that the cost of the so-called Obamacare initiative has doubled. Two years ago, when the Affordable Care Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a razor thin margin – with no Republican votes – we were told that the 10-year cost of the plan would be $940 billion. Democrats turned cartwheels around the Capitol because the grand total came in under $1 trillion. President Obama said if the cost had been higher, he would not have signed the bill.
It is now clear that the Democrats deliberately used phony numbers to drag this monstrosity across the finish line. The non-partisan CBO was told to “score” the 10-year cost – from 2011 to 2020. But Obamacare does not start until 2014, so the CBO’s projection actually accounted for just six years’ cost.
Now we’re told that Obamacare will cost $1.76 trillion from 2013 to 2022, the first nine years. Most likely the total from 2014 to 2023 will exceed $2 trillion, considering that the 2022 cost is now pegged at $265 billion.
As one Republican congressman said in the wake of the recent revelation, “The CBO’s revised cost estimate indicates that this massive government intrusion into America’s health care system will be far more costly than originally claimed. The law’s true cost to American taxpayers is part of a series of promises President Obama and Democrats in Congress made that will be broken.”
Rep. Pingree, of course, was an enthusiastic supporter of Obamacare. She is, after all, a liberal’s liberal. But in light of this frightening new CBO projection, it is fair to ask her if she would have voted for Obamacare if she had known its true cost.
If she says yes, ask her how we’re going to pay for this. We already have a $16 trillion national debt that we can’t repay, not to mention budget deficits running consistently over $1 trillion per year. President Obama has added some $5 trillion in additional debt since taking office, and Obamacare will add mightily to our disintegrating financial condition.
Let’s remember also that the newly revised projections may be too low. The feds are famous for huge economic mistakes. Medicare, for instance, costs 500 percent more than originally estimated.
If Pingree says no, that she would have opposed it if she knew the real price tag, ask her if she’s willing to publicly denounce the law and demand a vote for repeal. Let’s also ask her what’s going to happen to Medicare. To fund Obamacare, the feds plan to cut about $500 billion from this critical health program for senior citizens. The money will be used instead to subsidize insurance premiums for uninsured people.
Will that $500 billion cut force health rationing for seniors? Will they be told that Medicare has run out of money? These are big questions, and Rep. Pingree’s constituents deserve to hear her answers.
You might also ask Rep. Pingree how the states are going to pay for the 17 million people who will be added to Medicaid under Obamacare. The states can’t even afford their current Medicaid enrollments. Witness Maine, where we’re now struggling with yet another enormous cost overrun in MaineCare, the state’s name for Medicaid.
This national Medicaid explosion will financially crush states that are already on the ropes. If Rep. Pingree tells you that the feds will cover the cost for those 17 million people (that’s the plan for the first two years) ask her where Washington will get the money. The feds are bankrupt, with a debt that exceeds the value of our entire economy. Does she want us to end up like Greece, with riots in the streets and an enraged population?
What we are seeing with Obamacare is political insanity. Start with President Obama himself. What kind of man looks at a fast-growing $16 trillion debt and proposes nothing to bring spending under control? Not only does he do nothing to reign in entitlements, which we can barely sustain, he actually throws the mother of all entitlements on top of the pile.
As for Congress, and Rep. Pingree, what sort of people flat-out lie to the country about a hideously complicated program that we didn’t want in the first place – a program that does nothing to control the cost of health care and will ultimately tax us into the poorhouse?
Our country is in peril. If the Supreme Court does not strike down the Obamacare law, and if Congress can’t repeal it, the good ship USS America will take on water and begin to sink.
State Rep. Rich Cebra (R-Naples) is the House chair of the Transportation Committee