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Phantom cost savings of Obamacare -- Douglas Holtz-Eakin

A vivid example of how the legislation manipulates revenues is the provision to have corporations deposit $8 billion in higher estimated tax payments in 2014, thereby meeting fiscal targets for the first five years. But since the corporations' actual taxes would be unchanged, the money would need to be refunded the next year. The net effect is simply to shift dollars from 2015 to 2014.

In addition to this accounting sleight of hand, the legislation would blithely rob Peter to pay Paul. For example, it would use $53 billion in anticipated higher Social Security taxes to offset health care spending. Social Security revenues are expected to rise as employers shift from paying for health insurance to paying higher wages. But if workers have higher wages, they will also qualify for increased Social Security benefits when they retire. So the extra money raised from payroll taxes is already spoken for. (Indeed, it is unlikely to be enough to keep Social Security solvent.) It cannot be used for lowering the deficit.

A government takeover of all federally financed student loans -- which obviously has nothing to do with health care -- is rolled into the bill because it is expected to generate $19 billion in deficit reduction.

The Real Arithmetic of Health Care Reform
Published: March 21, 2010
Take away the budgetary gimmicks and games, and it's clear that health care reform raises, not lowers, federal deficits.


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