Such skewed preferences in him were evident last October, when Senator Obama voted for the Wall Street bailout. That was a signal, the first of many, that Obama was supportive of bank bailouts, and a generally Wall Street-centric policy. Since then, the bailouts have grown more and more costly, as the Treasury, Federal Reserve Board, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation—to name just three spigots of off-budget cash to banks and rentiers—all joined in the bailout binge.
By late November 2008, the cost of the bailout was estimated to be $3.5 trillion. But Obama, by then the president-elect, had no objection; indeed, his financial team worked closely with the outgoing Bush team to keep the money coming. Those great minds all thought alike, and so by January, when Obama was inaugurated, the total cost of those bailouts had risen to $8 trillion. The next month, February, the new president added nearly another trillion in spending, signing into law a $787 billion stimulus package. And thus by May, the cost of the various bailouts had swelled to as much as $12 trillion.
That's a lot of money, and not surprisingly, it's driving up interest rates, causing the dollar to fall, and even causing other countries to make plans to convert their assets to currencies other than the greenback—or even to create a new world currency altogether. Such talk has spooked not only the markets, but also the country. And Democrats are getting the message on spending: enough is enough.
But don't take my word for it. Take the word of America's No. 1 Democrat, Barack Obama. On May 22, C-SPAN's Steve Scully put this question to the president: "You know the numbers, $1.7 trillion debt, a national deficit of $11 trillion. At what point do we run out of money?"
And here's the answer, dooming a big healthcare plan: "Well, we are out of money now. We are operating in deep deficits, not caused by any decisions we've made on healthcare so far."
True enough. America ran out of money before the Obama administration did anything about healthcare—although, of course, the Obamans did just about everything for the banks.
Yet in the meantime, the projected cost of his de-prioritized healthcare plan keeps rising; estimates now vary from $1.6 trillion to $4 trillion over the next 10 years. That's a lot of money—but it's chump change compared to what was spent on the bailouts. Even the total at the high end of current projections, $4 trillion, works out to $400 billion a year. And as we have seen, the bailouts of 2008-2009 ran up the fiscal score by as much as $12 trillion. In other words, the bailouts cost 30 times the annual bill for a new healthcare plan. And from the looks of things now, any healthcare plan that might survive will cost a great deal less than that.
James P. Pinkerton, a fellow at the New America Foundation and a contributor to the Fox News Channel, was a domestic policy aide in the Reagan and Bush 41 White Houses.