Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Steny Hoyer: Lying to us about spending

Steny Hoyer has a column in the WSJ telling the public that we need an honest discussion of what needs to be done to bring the U.S. debt. He tells us that we must all share the sacrifices necessary to bring down our annual deficits even if that means we need a tax increase.

This would all be easier to take if Hoyer didn't include the Democratic deceptions that their health care package is going to bring down reforms.
Health-care costs, as I noted, are one of our main challenges. According to the Congressional Budget Office the health-care bill will put us on a path to bring down those costs, incorporating many of the best ideas from both Republicans and Democrats. But Congress will need to ensure that as the law is implemented, it achieves the goal of containing costs. Congress will also need to stand strong against pressure to change cost-cutting provisions. We saw an example of the pressure early in the health-care debate, when critics of the legislation wrongly and knowingly portrayed its Medicare savings as a cut in benefits.
Well, the only reason that the CBO came to such a counter-intuitive conclusion that expanding coverage for more people would bring down costs is because it had to accept the dubious conclusions that the Democrats included in their bill such as assuming that they would cut reimbursement rates for doctors. Congress hasn't passed such cuts ever despite having promised to do so for years. They had to examine look at just 10 years out when the big spending is delayed for four years in order to get a better picture for the decade. It's an entirely different picture when you look at the years once the program is implemented.

The Medicare Actuary report from Obama's own HHS Department that was just released this week didn't have to buy the phony assumptions that the Democrats had fed to the CBO. And their conclusion says just what critics of ObamaCare had been saying all along. Their policy will not lower costs as Hoyer is still trying to convince us, but raise costs and drive hospitals out of business - not a result that will do anything to lower costs when more and more people will be demanding health care as the baby boom generation ages up.
President Obama's health care overhaul law will increase the nation's health care tab instead of bringing costs down, government economic forecasters concluded Thursday in a sobering assessment of the sweeping legislation.

A report by economic experts at the Health and Human Services Department said the health care remake will achieve Obama's aim of expanding health insurance — adding 34 million Americans to the coverage rolls.

But the analysis also found that the law falls short of the president's twin goal of controlling runaway costs. It also warned that Medicare cuts may be unrealistic and unsustainable, driving about 15% of hospitals into the red and "possibly jeopardizing access" to care for seniors.

The mixed verdict for Obama's signature issue is the first comprehensive look by neutral experts.
But Hoyer hopes that people will believe his deception rather than the actuarial report from the HHS.

Then Hoyer continues his deception about how Obama and the Democrats are all about spending and will cut it religiously through their pay-go provisions that require them to raise spending only if they can cut it elsewhere.
On a host of other issues, President Barack Obama also showed his seriousness about fiscal restraint. His budget freezes nonsecurity discretionary spending and cuts our deficit by more than half by 2013, and more than $1.3 trillion over the next decade. He signed a bill to reform weapons acquisition and target cost overruns at the Pentagon. And he joined me and others in the successful push to return to the pay-as-you-go law that requires Congress to find a dollar of savings for every extra dollar it spends on entitlements or tax cuts, except for legislation responding to a legitimate emergency.
That legitimate emergency provision provides a huge loophole that has allowed them to pass the huge stimulus bill last year. Just this year, they demonized Senator Bunning for refusing unanimous consent to a vote on their extension of unemployment compensation until the Democrats followed their own pay-go provisions to indicate how they were going to pay for it.
Sen. Jim Bunning took to the Senate floor on Monday to defend his one-man filibuster of expiring unemployment benefits.

"If we can't find $10 billion to pay for something that we all support, we will never pay for anything on the floor of this U.S. Senate," he said.

The Kentucky Republican has come under fierce fire from Democrats for his one man filibuster of expiring transportation funds, Medicare reimbursement rates, and unemployment benefits. Already his opposition has resulted in the furlough of 2,000 workers at the Department of Transportation. If it continues, millions of unemployed workers could lose their health insurance and benefits.

Bunning got support from Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl, who defended his colleagues insistence of paying for the legislation with unused stimulus funds.

"You can't say that everything we do around here needs to be offset," said Kyl, "and then waive the pay go legislation every time you want to do it."

"My colleague from Kentucky made a good point."

Bunning said that he had “offered several ways” to offset the costs in talks with Democratic leadership staff but “none have been successful.”
The Democrats could have passed their bill without Bunning's vote, but they preferred the delay so they could take some shots at Bunning and other Republicans who supported him in his demand that the Democrats live up to their whole pay-as-you-go responsibility shtick. Instead they wanted to portray him as trying to deprive unemployed people their righteous extensions of unemployment benefits and to score some political points.
Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer asked Bunning to “stop this gamesmanship,” noting that his block had led to the furlough of 2,000 transportation workers.

And Democratic Majority Whip Dick Durbin said Bunning’s filibuster would close down Small Business administration programs that provide credit to small businesses.

“What are we thinking? To stop assistance to small business at this moment in our history,” he asked. “And yet the Senator from Kentucky has objected.”

Even the White House took a shot.

“What Sen. Bunning has done has frustrated a lot of people across the political spectrum,” said press secretary Robert Gibbs.

Democrats also made Bunning the poster child for a push to change filibuster rules, complaining that one senator is holding up unemployment benefits, highway funding and renewal of COBRA health care benefits.

"I'm very, very hopeful that this little experiment that we're having with Sen. Bunning will be instructive and enlightening to the American people," said House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, in a conference call of
Democrats from both chambers. “They are now seeing what it can be like to have these rules that are no longer relevant to the times in which we live.”
First of all, what Bunning did wasn't a filibuster. He was just objecting to a unanimous consent passage of the extension of benefits. The Democrats had enough Republican votes to pass their bill without Bunning's vote, but they preferred the political gamesmanship and opportunity to pretend that what Bunning opposed was helping small businesses and unemployed workers when all he was trying to do was to make them live up to their own rhetoric, the same rhetoric that Steny Hoyer is sanctimoniously trotting out today about how they won't raise spending unless they cut it somewhere else. Ha!

Of course, the Republicans were guilty of runaway spending when they were in control of Congress. They claim to have seen the light after two cycles of election losses. If they get in and continue along the spending paths they were on before, we'll really have no party who cares about getting our country back into better fiscal shape.

But voters need to see through Steny Hoyer's and other Democrats' deceptions as they claim that they have cut spending on medical care and that they are firm on making cuts whenever they raise spending. These are lies, big lies.