The act would reduce Medicare spending on hospital stays by $245 billion from 2010-2019, while increasing tax revenue by $113 billion. So on paper, Medicare’s hospital insurance trust fund would be some $358 billion to the better, boosting its long-term solvency. But the government then takes that $358 billion and uses it to pay for increased, non-Medicare healthcare spending — leaving $358 billion worth of IOUs in the Medicare trust fund. If not for that $358 billion shift, the act would worsen the deficit by $226 billion over the next ten years.It is a disgrace that members of Congress keep feeding us fraudulent accounting. Now they’ve even figured out how to turn the once-respectable Congressional Budget Office into the Congressional Bulls--- Office.
It’s a clever trick that takes advantage of the CBO’s treatment of both the Medicare and Social Security trust funds as essentially off-balance sheet vehicles.
Magic act. You steal $358 billion from Medicare, give it to the new health care program, and leave a piece of paper in Medicare saying the money will be paid back. Under the new Bulls--- accounting, that transaction puts $358 billion in new health care and, even though it’s only a promise, appears to leave another $358 billion in Medicare.
Presto! $358 billion out of thin air. It’s just this type of accounting that already has Medicare operating deep in the red, and has emptied the Social Security “Trust Fund” of $2 trillion that should be there.
Congress regularly takes advantage of the fact that the press is simply unable to handle math that takes more than two sentences to explain. Throw in the accounting jargon, and the bamboozlement is complete.