President Obama vowed a federal takeover of health care would "not add one dime to the deficit." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has taken this empty promise one step further by introducing a bill he says will reduce the federal budget deficit.
Yes, the Nevada Democrat would have the public believe that as a result of his 2,074-page tribute to taxation, regulation and government growth, Washington finally will learn fiscal restraint and spend less than it takes in.
All the figures associated with Sen. Reid's bill, as well as the leviathan assembled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are limited to a 10-year horizon. That's how far the Congressional Budget Office looks into the future to estimate the fiscal ramifications of spending legislation.
To mask the budget-busting nature of these plans, congressional Democrats propose enacting tax increases and penalties before the bulk of their spending starts. Some tax hikes would take effect immediately. Sen. Reid obtained his phantom $130 billion surplus by delaying subsidies for the uninsured until January 2014. Front-loaded tax collections. Back-loaded expenses. Neat accounting trick.
Sen. Reid's numbers also bank on deep cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, and on states passing the massive tax increases that will be needed to meet unfunded federal mandates. Those are politically unpopular propositions. Subsidized insurance won't help anyone if doctors' reimbursements are so low that they refuse to see patients.
Passing a long-term "doctor fix" -- eliminating the cuts in Medicare reimbursements -- would add about $200 billion to the budget deficit over 10 years, according to the CBO, and make the cost of Democrats' plans too expensive to hide.
As it is, the country's record budget deficits will explode after 2019 if this boondoggle is passed. Once the scheme clears the CBO's 10-year window, expenses immediately begin outstripping revenues. That would give the country yet another insolvent entitlement.
Fortunately, the public already sees through the Democrats' phony promises of fiscal responsibility. According a new Quinnipiac University poll, only 19 percent of Americans believe "health insurance reform will not add to our federal budget deficit over the next decade" -- to say nothing of the years beyond.
Sen. Reid needs to be honest with the public and himself: He's about to deepen this country's crippling debt.
Which is far worse than doing nothing at all.