There’s a subtle story going around this week that you definitely won’t see covered on Fox News. You won’t hear Speaker John Boehner or Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell discussing these results in their usual rote talking points about Obamacare and the socialist takeover of the country by the President’s policies. Between all the baying about the deficit, the budget and the huge negative impacts of the upcoming sequestration plan that will be implemented in the absence of fiscal resolution, if you blinked, you could almost miss the headline:
The New York Times ran this piece on Monday morning, and to be fair, it might have been difficult for anyone to focus what with Benedict XVI’s stunning announcement that he would be the first Pope in six centuries to resign his post. There’s also the President’s first State of the Union Address since winning re-election in 2012. It has undoubtedly been a busy news cycle and that will likely continue as we move through the week.
But come on! This is a big deal!According to the piece by writer Annie Lowrey, “A sharp and surprisingly persistent slowdown in the growth of health care costs is helping to narrow the federal deficit, leaving budget experts trying to figure out whether the trend will last and how much the slower growth could help alleviate the country’s long-term fiscal problems.”
Excuse me for asking this obvious, but isn’t this precisely what both political parties claim to be after? Going back to the 2008 Presidential campaign, then candidates John McCain and Barack Obama devoted near equal time to lamenting the spiraling costs of healthcare and its affect on deficit spending. Both men vowed to do something if elected. It seemed to be an issue that most Americans and politicos could get behind.
Then low and behold, early into his first term, Obama and the Democrats actually got something accomplished – with the GOP fighting them every step of the way. It wasn’t pretty. It was embarrassing and painful for almost everybody, and the end result was a far cry from the single payer system that many liberals badly desired. But in the end the Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act was a huge pivot away from a throughly broken system that seemed to exist for the benefit of health insurance companies, rather than the sick and injured they were created to serve.
Republicans wasted no time decrying the Act as the largest increase in government bureaucracy since ___ (fill in the blank), a measure that would drive medical costs and the Federal deficit up rather than down. Through it all, Obama held steady, confident that history would have the final say.
It didn’t even take a leap year. Lowrey goes on to write, “In figures released last week, the Congressional Budget Office said it had erased hundreds of billions of dollars in projected spending on Medicare and Medicaid. The budget office now projects that spending on those two programs in 2020 will be about $200 billion, or 15 percent, less than it projected three years ago.”
President Obama is way too gracious a person to perform the “I told you so dance” on Capitol Hill to which he is richly entitled. So I will do it for him. BOOM!!! How’s that for change you can believe?
Here’s hoping the President and his team use this data to their advantage, to head naysayers and sycophants off at the pass who stand to gain much by protecting the status quo. As the POTUS seeks to take on a host of issues this calendar year that seem to draw crazies out of the woodwork (I’m thinking gun control and immigration), let this early data from the effects of health care reform empower him to keep doing what is right.