Surprise! CBO Says Health Care Spending Will Cause U.S. Debt to Reach Record Heights

A report issued today by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), The 2013 Long-Term Budget Outlook, indicates that health care spending in the U.S. is going to cause our debt to reach record high levels.

This is definitely not a surprise; conservatives, researchers at the Heritage Foundation among many others, have been warning politicians about this for years.

Back in 2012, Heritage’s Alyene Senger noted that Obamacare’s entitlement spending will make this problem dramatically worse in the years ahead:

Obamacare’s major provisions begin to kick in in 2014, and this will result in federal spending for health care programs other than Medicare and Medicaid rising from $26 billion this year to $161 billion in 2022. 

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Congress Can Save $30 Billion More from the THUD Bill

At $54 billion, the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill contains a lot of excessive spending.  Of course, while the Senate bill is far more egregious than the House bill ($44.1 billion) and blows through sequestration spending caps, both bills could save more.

The folks in Congress should be aware that our nation is nearly $17 trillion in debt.  The Heritage Foundation’s Emily Goff identified several ways in which Congress could substantially cut wasteful spending in this appropriations bill.

A number of programs should be terminated or eliminated altogether; others should be privatized; still others should have their funding reduced.  Below are Heritage’s suggestions:

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McClintock Amendment Would Have Saved Taxpayer Money

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) defended his amendment to the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2609) on the House floor Tuesday night.  Unfortunately, the amendment was later defeated.  The video can be viewed here.  We key voted in favor of this amendment as it would have cut significant amounts of unnecessary, wasteful spending.  By rejecting it, the House  overtly harmed taxpayers.

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Eliminate the Unnecessary, Inefficient NEA

As America approaches $17 trillion dollars in debt, there has been never been a more urgent need to think of ways to cut spending.  Eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) would be a great place to start.

The federal government spends roughly $146 million a year on the NEA that taxpayers cannot afford.  In its 2011 annual report, the agency bragged that its “funding made possible approximately 88,000 concerts, readings, and performances; 4,000 exhibitions; and 9,000 artist residencies.”

No rational person would categorize NEA funding as a necessary role of government, though.  Funding art projects should be done by individuals and the private sector.  As Heritage has explained, the federal government could easily cut spending by following the simple principle of privatization:

[T]he federal government has assumed myriad activities that are beyond the necessary role of government at any level. These should be restored to the private sector. 

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Violating the Sequester: A Congressional Blueprint

Even before the infamous sequester, the sequence of congressional appropriations measures held tremendous significance.  By passing the defense appropriations bill last, big-government lawmakers could typically increase spending on the 11 other measures above their allocations while knowing the legislative and executive branches would never squeeze defense spending to fit within the overall discretionary spending target.

While different in a post-sequester world, sequencing is even more important to big-government lawmakers determined to violate the discretionary spending caps established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the failure of the so-called super committee.

This delicate dance began in earnest this week.  CQ Roll Call (sub. req’d) reported:

Appropriators approved the bill (HR 2216) by voice vote [in committee in May], and there is expected to be broad support for it in the chamber.  …  The largely bipartisan Military Construction-[Veterans’ Affairs] bill would provide $152.8 billion, including $73.3 billion for discretionary spending, a $1.4 billion increase over the fiscal 2013 enacted level and $2.4 billion more than that level after the sequester.  The across-the-board cuts affected military construction accounts but not veterans’ spending.  (emphasis added)

Because of the sequester, the discretionary spending cap for FY14 is lower than the FY13 cap.  If appropriations for MilCon-VA increase as total discretionary spending decreases, other appropriations measures will have to be reduced by even more.

If this is a good faith effort to reallocate and prioritize federal spending, subsequent appropriations bills brought before the House will follow the levels outlined in the chart below.

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