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Right Turn
Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 03/23/2011

Obama’s funny numbers

Last Friday, the Congressional Budget Office put out a report that showed just how badly the administration underestimated the deficit and the cost of ObamaCare. The CBO’s report, strangely unremarked upon by those liberals who defend the CBO’s utterances as sacred text, revealed:

Compared with the Administration’s estimates, CBO’s estimates of the deficit under the President’s budget are lower for 2011 (by $220 billion) but higher for each year thereafter (by a total of $2.3 trillion over the 2012–2021 period). That disparity stems from differences in the underlying projections of what would happen under current law ($1.3 trillion) as well as from differing assessments of the effects of the President’s proposals ($1.0 trillion).

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was quick to point out the impact of the CBO’s findings in a statement listing some of the salient numbers. The most glaring: The CBO shows that the debt over 10 years will be $1.8 trillion higher than President Obama revealed.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee, put out his own statement:

Under CBO’s projections, over the next ten years, deficits will be 31 percent higher than the White House claimed, $9.5 trillion vs. $7.2 trillion. Annual debt interest payments rise to $931 billion — exceeding White House projections by nearly $100 billion that year. By the end of the decade, if the president’s policies are adopted, debt held by the public will quadruple from what it was just three years ago. CBO analysis shows that even the president’s weak argument that his budget achieves so-called ‘primary balance’ quickly disappears once the White House’s budget gimmicks are removed.

The CBO report comes at a particularly inopportune time for the White House. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle accuse the president of failing to lead. And indeed with Obama gallivanting around South America, not leading on Libya and not leading on our fiscal problems, it’s hard to see anything at work other than an ill-conceived plan to get re-elected by doing nothing.

Moreover, on the anniversary of ObamaCare we learn the extent of the president’s budget shenanigans. The Wall Street Journal editors explain that “ObamaCare will be far more expensive than advertised”:

To wit, CBO says the entitlement’s health insurance subsidies will cost $1.13 trillion between 2012 and 2021, not $1.04 trillion, the prior estimate. This 8.6% jump is the result of revised assumptions, the so-called technical factors in CBO’s budget model. The bill’s total cost now stands at $1.445 trillion, according to another recent CBO estimate.

Remember that all of these are fictitious numbers that reflect Congressional gaming of CBO conventions to make it seem as if ObamaCare “saves” money. But now, even under these conventions, CBO is conceding that it significantly underestimated the bill’s cost. If the propeller heads decide to add a few more trillion dollars in new spending, they might get somewhat closer to the bill’s true cost.

Obama’s Potemkin village of fiscal sobriety has fallen down before our eyes.

And where are those budget talks that Vice President Joe Biden was put in charge of? A key Senate adviser wasn’t sure. Maybe Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) are talking. Maybe not.

Unlike a war, Obama cannot try to subcontract out domestic policy to the French (though President Nicolas Sarkozy would no doubt do a better job). The president is a key player in any effort to rescue ourselves from a fiscal crackup. But the president is AWOL. Again.

By  |  10:00 AM ET, 03/23/2011

Categories:  Budget

 
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