Republicans are ready to join Democrats and increase Medicare repayments in a way that will increase the deficit $130 billion in a decade.
Is there some political manual somewhere that explains to elected officials that, if they are going to betray the voters, they need to do it in a big way in order to demoralize them?
I won’t repeat the litany of 2015 Congressional Republican sins in this post. As one example, however, I’ll remind you that they have already expressed openness to raising taxes—something that is the opposite of the reason they were voted into office. Now we have a whole new spending measure.
Robert Moffit writes at the Daily Signal, “How Doc Fix Deal House GOP Is Backing Would Increase the Deficit.”
The “doc fix” refers to Medicare.
The House Republican congressional leadership is poised to announce a major “deal” with House Democrats on repealing the troublesome “Sustainable Growth Rate” (SGR) formula for updating Medicare physician payment. Such a change is expected cost taxpayers over $200 billion over 10 years.
Yet major press reports indicate that only $70 billion of the tab is expected to be paid for. In other words, taxpayers will be faced with another $130 billion in deficits over the next 10 years.
This represents a fundamental shift among some Republicans on how they view the Medicare physician payment and the deficit problem. During the debate on Obamacare, then-House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, rightly denounced Democratic attempts to then enact an unfunded SGR fix. On Nov. 19, 2009, Boehner said: “This irresponsible ‘doc fix’ proves once again that out-of-touch Washington Democrats simply cannot help themselves when it comes to piling debt on our kids and grandkids. Democrats continue to add tens of billions of dollars to the deficit while promising to eventually end their unprecedented spending binge.”
The rationalization for this deficit spending is that Congress has been “fixing” the SGR formula year by year. Since we aren’t abiding by the formula, why not change it?
The answer is that, even though Congress has spent more than the formula calls for, it also did it by trying to pay for it. Congress did not simply increase the deficit to fund the extra spending. However, with this bipartisan “fix,” the pressure to find other places in the budget to cut in order to increase spending on doctors will no longer be felt.
This is a bad deal. The fact that it is even being considered is revealing about the kind of Republicans who hold office right now.