As part of a team of New York Times reporters fact-checking the presidential debate Sunday morning in Concord, N.H. , White House reporter Jackie Calmes once again baselessly claimed that expensive Obama-care is actually a money-saver, claiming GOP candidate Mitt Romney was false to assert otherwise. But the history of government cost projections (Medicare, anyone?) strongly suggest Calmes is wrong.
(After the GOP took the November 2010 elections, Calmes confidently stated : 'Republicans also say they will try to deny money to put Mr. Obama's new health care law into effect, though they have not made clear what they would do to make up the cost savings that would be lost if they succeeded in repealing the law.')
Calmes posted Sunday:
Mitt Romney repeated a claim he has made in past debates - repealing the Obama health care law would save money - that has been refuted by nonpartisan fact checkers and analyses like those of the Congressional Budget Office.
He said repealing the law would save $95 billion a year. The Congressional Budget Office has projected that the health care law would reduce deficits by $210 billion in the first decade from fiscal year 2012 through 2021, given taxes, fees and health cost reductions mandated by the law. Similarly, the office reported that legislation passed last year by the House Republican majority to repeal the law would increase deficits by the same amount.
While the budget office has declined to put an exact figure on projected savings of the health care law beyond the first decade, given the uncertainty of such long-range projections, it concluded that the savings would be in the range of half a percentage point of the nation's gross domestic product, a substantial amount. The Obama administration has projected that the savings in the second decade will exceed $1 trillion.
In November, the nonpartisan fact-checking group Politifact said of Mr. Romney's claim: 'We rate his statement false.'
But as the Wall Street Journal argued in an editorial last January :
Of all the claims deployed in favor of ObamaCare, and there are many, the most preposterous is that a new open-ended entitlement will somehow reduce the budget deficit. Insure 32 million more people, and save money too! The even more remarkable spectacle is that Washington seems to be taking this claim seriously in advance of the House's repeal vote next week. Some things in politics you just can't make up.
The Journal punctured the CBO findings:
The accounting gimmicks are legion, but we'll pick out a few: It uses 10 years of taxes to fund six years of subsidies. Social Security and Medicare revenues are double-counted to the tune of $398 billion. A new program funding long-term care frontloads taxes but backloads spending, gradually going broke by design. The law pretends that Congress will spend less on Medicare than it really will, in particular through an automatic 25% cut to physician payments that Democrats have already voted not to allow for this year.
The CBO budget gnomes are required to "score" what's on paper in front of them, no matter how unrealistic, and that's the method its Congressional masters prefer. The political class makes believe that CBO's forecasts are carved into stone tablets through divine revelation, but all they really show is that politicians have rigged the budget rules to hide the true cost of entitlements.
The Journal argued: 'Amid the repeal debate, Democrats and the media are behaving as if they have no knowledge of Congress's habits or the history of government health-care programs over the last half-century....
Neither does Calmes, evidently.
- Clay Waters is editor of the MRC's TimesWatch  site.