None of the Democrats' current health care "reform" bills will meet President Barack Obama's stated goal of slowing the ruinous rise of medical costs, Congress' budget umpire warned Thursday. In fact, they could break the bank.
The sobering assessment from Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf came as House Democrats pushed to pass a partisan bill through committees, while in the Senate a small group of lawmakers continued to seek a deal that could win support from both parties.
From the beginning Mr. Obama has insisted that any overhaul must "bend the curve" of rapidly rising costs that threaten to swamp the budget.
Asked by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., if the evolving legislation would bend the cost curve, the budget director responded that "the curve is being raised."
Explained Mr. Elmendorf: "In the legislation that has been reported, we do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount. And on the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs."
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the budget director's warning should be "a wake-up call," adding, "instead of rushing through one expensive proposal after another, we should take the time we need to get things right."
Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., chairman of the Blue Dog Democrats' health care task force, said his group would need to see significant changes to protect small businesses and rural providers and contain costs before it could sign on.
President Obama was doing all he could last week to encourage Congress to act quickly, before the deal falls apart. He met Thursday morning with two potential Senate swing votes, Sens. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.
Since Democrats have enough votes to shove almost anything they want through the Senate, why suddenly all this talk about seeking "bipartisan reform"?
Because Democrats can't tell the truth. They know socialized medicine will cost enough billions to lower the standard of living for millions of Americans, but they have to pretend they believe otherwise, that it will somehow "save money."
They can't run for re-election in 2010 -- any more than they could run in 2008 -- on an honest platform of, "We'll raise your taxes to the sky and borrow the nation into bankruptcy to get to our real goal, which is a 'single-payer' system that tells people they may just have to die waiting in line, because it turns out tax-funded medicine always creates more demand than we can pay for."
They know they can't win again in 2010 after enacting such a monster unless Republicans sell out, neutering their own ability to tell that straight story on the campaign trail with an added "We told you so." Democrats need at least a token number of Republicans on board their bandwagon.
So why do Republicans go along?
The loyal opposition is not there to get invited to the right cocktail parties, or to enjoy favorable puff pieces in The Washington Post. They're there to vote "no" on socialism, restore the competitive free market wherever they can, call a spade a spade, and dump the freedom-hating redistributionists (now rapidly and unwisely casting aside their sheeps' clothing) as soon as possible.
Time to find a spine.