Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fiscal Chicanery Fails: Obamacare's CLASS Program to be Suspended Indefinitely

During the debates on Obamacare, one of the major talking points for supporters was that "Obamacare will cut the deficit." The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released estimates showing that Obamacare would cut the deficit over the period from 2010 to 2019. To me, however, this seemed to contradict common sense. How could a massive entitlement program actually cut the deficit without equally massive tax increases?

Well, one of Obamacare's gimmicks was exposed on October 14. The CLASS Act, a long-term care insurance program, was set up to charge participants for at least five years before they became eligible for benefits. It was estimated to create a $70 billion surplus for the first ten years, which could be used to pay for Obamacare and contribute to the program's so-called deficit savings. Conveniently, the CBO only projects the fiscal impact of legislation for the first ten years.

The problem is, of course, that after ten years or so, all of the people who had been paying into the system for five years would start receiving benefits. And healthy people would have no incentive to sign up for CLASS; it would only attract participants who expected to draw significant benefits. It was a budgetary time bomb. Democratic Senator Kent Conrad called it "a Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing Bernie Madoff would have been proud of."

And it seems like the White House has been forced to admit that Conrad and other critics of the program were correct.

1 comment: