Wash. Post calls health care reform “costly” -- but it reduces the deficit

In a September 3 article, The Washington Post falsely characterized the health care reform package passed earlier this year as a “costly bill” :

The candidate was outraged - just outraged - at the country's sorry fiscal state.

“We have managed to acquire $13 trillion of debt on our balance sheet,” he fumed to a roomful of voters. “In my view, we have nothing to show for it.”

And that was a Democrat, Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, who voted “yes” on the stimulus, the health-care overhaul, increased education funding and other costly bills Congress approved under his party's control.

Faced with a potential wipeout in November's midterm elections, candidates such as Bennet are embracing budget cuts with the enthusiasm of Reagan Republicans.

In fact, the Congressional Budget Office determined in March that the two health care bills signed into law that month “would produce a net reduction in federal deficits of $143 billion over the 2010-2019 period” and would further reduce the deficit in the second decade after enactment “with a total effect during that decade in a broad range around one-half percent of GDP.”

The CBO has since reiterated that health care reform will reduce the deficit. As the Post itself reported on July 1, CBO director Doug Elmendorf said during his June 30 presentation to President Obama's deficit commission that the health care reform legislation “did not substantially diminish” the long-term deficit problem, but that it “made a dent.”

The CBO also noted in a footnote of its June 30 long-term budget outlook that although the law -- which will reduce the number of uninsured Americans by 32 million by 2019 -- will increase federal spending on health care in the next two decades, it will also “reduce budget deficits over the 2010-2019 period and in subsequent years.” The CBO budget outlook further stated that if the health care reform law is implemented as written, it will “increase projected revenues, particularly in the 2030s and beyond, thus slowing the accumulation of debt considerably.”

The falsehood that health care reform is “costly” and will increase the deficit has long been a favorite of the right-wing media. The Washington Post, though, should know better.