Fred Hiatt Makes Up Statistics To Claim Health Care Would Bankrupt America

In this morning’s Washington Post, editorial page editor Fred Hiatt argues that the House health care bill “could take America a step closer to bankruptcy” and harm “the poor and vulnerable.”

Hiatt acknowledges that “[i]n a country as wealthy as America, no one should have to go without medical care” and remains hopeful that the House health care bill “would take America a giant step closer to” insuring all Americans. But, he also sees a “dilemma.” “The bill also could take America a step closer to bankruptcy. And for progressives in particular — for those who believe that government has a mission to help the poor and protect the vulnerable — that prospect should be alarming.

But since the CBO’s analysis of the House health care bill doesn’t support Hiatt’s contention that it would bring America “a step closer to bankruptcy,” Hiatt relies on the CBO’s analysis of the President’s budget and implies that it’s Obama’s health “plan”:

The root difficulty is Obama’s insistence that the nation can afford a large new social program without raising taxes on anyone who earns less than $250,000 per year. Under his plan, according to a CBO analysis, the government will be spending 24.5 percent of gross domestic product — the total value of the national economy — by 2019 while raising only 19 percent in revenue: a huge, unsustainable gap.

The 24.5% of GDP isn’t a measure of government spending as a result of the House/Obama health care bill. It’s a measure of the outlays of all of the President’s policies in his 2010 budget in 2019 and does not capture the effects of health care reform or the House bill.

According to the CBO, the House health care bill — the one that Hiatt claimed “could take America a step closer to bankruptcy” — would actually “reduce the federal deficit by $9 billion in 2019″ and, in the decade following 2019, the “the legislation would slightly reduce federal budget deficits in that decade relative to those projected under current law—with a total effect during that decade that is in a broad range between zero and one-quarter percent of GDP.”