During last night’s CNN/Tea Party debate, Michele Bachmann warned the nation that the 2012 presidential is “going to decide if we have socialized medicine in this country” and repriced her argument that President Obama secretly “embedded” millions of dollars in “post-dated checks” to implement the Affordable Care Act outside of congressional scrutiny:
BACHMANN: This is the election that’s going to decide if we have socialized medicine in this country or not. This is it.
Why? I just have to say this. It’s because President Obama embedded $105,464,000,000 in Obamacare in post-dated checks to implement this bill. We are never going to get rid of it unless we have a president committed to getting rid of it. And if you believe that states can have it and that it’s constitutional, you’re not committed. If you’ve implemented this in your state, you’re not committed. I’m committed to repealing Obamacare.
Bachmann and a small group of conservative House lawmakers invented the notion that Democrats snuck in $105 billion in hidden mandatory spending into the health care law back in March, arguing that “This is something that wasn’t known…This money was broken up, hidden in various parts of the bill.” Bachmann even actively raised money off her “discovery.”
But the mandatory spending was, in fact, openly discussed in the various Congressional Budget Office estimates of health care reform. For instance, this CBO estimate from Dec. 19, 2009 addressed the effects of “mandatory appropriations for the Prevention and Public Health Fund,” “community health centers” and “the National Health Service Corps.” In an earlier document from November 2009, CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf writes, “For example, the House bill would finance the operations of the insurance exchanges through mandatory appropriations rather than a surcharge on the plans offered in the exchanges. ” (The word “mandatory” is used throughout this CBO compilation of health care related documents).
Both parties have relied on both mandatory and discretionary spending to fund various initiatives (in 2003, the Republican-led Congress passed legislation that included over $400 billion of mandatory spending that was not paid for in the Medicare Drug Bill.) In fact, the mandatory spending in the health law — which was used to provide some programs with stable funding — funded Republican-supported initiatives like providing states with flexibility to design their own state-based exchanges and investing in primary care and prevention.