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WHAT OTHERS SAY: Fiscal impact of health care act appears impossible to trace

Thursday, June 12, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Unsure of Obamacare's fiscal toll on the nation?

You're in good company. The nation's top budgetary scorekeeper doesn't know either.

The Congressional Budget Office, which four years ago said Obamacare would reduce the deficit by $120 billion over 10 years, now says measuring the law's fiscal impact is impossible because of all the changes.

"Provisions of the Affordable Care Act significantly modified existing federal programs and made changes to the Internal Revenue Code," the office wrote in a little-noticed footnote from April. "Isolating the incremental effects of those provisions on previously existing programs and revenues four years after enactment is not possible."

This is Congress' own budget adviser giving the verbal equivalent of a shoulder shrug to the central question facing the most sweeping legislation in a generation.

So it's official: The experts are unsure whether Obamacare — the largest expansion of government-subsidized health care — will reduce or increase the national debt. We're not experts, but if we were forced to wager, we know exactly where we would place our bet.

The Budget Office revelation hardly instills confidence in a horribly flawed health care law that is supposed to be President Obama's crowning achievement.

If the Budget Office can't figure out which direction this labyrinth law is headed, where are Americans worried about the nation's fiscal health supposed to turn for guidance?

To the Democratic policy wonks and lobbyists who helped draft this abomination in secret?

To the Democratic lawmakers who rammed the law through Congress so we could "find out what's in it"?

To the Democratic president who told us that if we liked our existing doctors and health insurance, we could keep them?

Sorry. We'll take a rain check on that.

Copyright Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle. Distributed by the Associated Press.


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