In the run up to Wednesday’s vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to abolish “Obamacare,” a group of prominent economists—including several former members of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers and two former directors of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office—have written the congressional leadership urging its repeal.
In their letter, the nearly 200 economists from all over the United States—from the business world, from the academy, and from the think tank community—say that the repeal of the new nationalized healthcare law would “promote job growth and help restore the government to fiscal balance.”
Obamacare, they write, “contains expensive mandates and penalties that create major barriers to stronger job growth. The mandates will compete for the scarce business resources used for hiring and firm expansion. The law also levies roughly $500 billion in new taxes that will enter the supply chain for medical services, raising the cost of medical services. At the same time that businesses juggle the potential for higher interest rates or higher taxes, these medical costs will translate to higher insurance premiums, further increasing the cost of operating a business in the United States.” [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on healthcare.]
Furthermore, they say, the new law “is fiscally dangerous at a moment when the United States is already facing a sea of red ink. It creates a massive new entitlement at a time when the budget is already buckling under the weight of existing entitlements. At a minimum, it will add $1 trillion to government spending over the next decade. Assertions that these costs are paid for are based on omitted costs, budgetary gimmicks, shifted premiums from other entitlements, and unsustainable spending cuts and revenue increases. A more comprehensive and realistic projection suggests that the Affordable Care Act [Obamacare] could potentially raise the federal budget deficit by more than $500 billion during the first ten years and by nearly $1.5 trillion in the following decade.”
Instead, they urge Congress to “start with a clean sheet of paper” that will refocus the debate on a set of core principles that are not at all inconsistent with what the president and his political allies said they wanted to do: encourage providers to offer higher-quality care at lower costs to consumers; reduce the financial pressure that entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid are putting on the federal balance sheet; and give every American options, including keeping the insurance they have if they like it—which, under Obamacare, they cannot necessarily do despite the president’s promise otherwise.