Saturday, October 17, 2009

Gary Palmer: The Columbus Hoax: Promising what can't be delivered

  It occurred to me that an incident which took place on October 13, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio might just be the best analogy of how socialized health care is being sold to the American public.

  According to media reports, a woman pulled up to a Burlington Coat Factory in a Hummer limousine, walked to the store check-out counter and loudly announced that she had just won the lottery and would pay for everyone’s purchases up to $500 and she would stay until the store closed.

  Not only did people flood the cash register lines, they phoned their friends and relatives to tell them the good news. According to one Columbus police officer, there were at least 500 people in the store aisles and another 1,000 outside trying to get in. Unfortunately for all those people with their shopping carts full, the lady had not won the lottery and she could not pay for everyone’s purchase.

  Chaos ensued when shoppers were informed that their merchandise would not be paid for as promised. Angry shoppers trashed the store and some simply left the store with the merchandise they believed they were entitled to since someone else had promised to pay for it.

  In Washington, D.C. we have Democrats in Congress joining the President to shout loudly that they are offering health care to everyone, regardless of their state of health, which someone else will pay for and they promise it will not increase the federal deficit by one dime. The latest version of their plan for a national health care collective was approved by the Senate Finance Committee which is chaired by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT.) Ironically, the bill was approved on the same day as the Columbus coat store hoax.

  One of the most significant claims made by Sen. Baucus about this version of the health care bill is that over the next ten years it will not increase the federal deficit. In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) analysis, over the first ten years it will shrink the federal deficit. But before everyone rushes to the health care collective sign-up line, there are a few details they need to know.

  First and foremost, this new health care plan isn’t free, at least not for the majority of people. According to a study by the highly-respected public accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, if the health care bill passes it will add $1,700 per year to the cost of family coverage by the year 2013. In ten years, they project premiums will be $4,000 more for families and $1,500 more for individuals than if Congress did nothing at all.

  In addition to this scenario, Kevin Hassett wrote in a article that “… about 87 percent of the revenue in the original Baucus proposal to finance Obamacare would come from individuals with incomes of less than $200,000.”

  Moreover, Shawn Tully, editor-at-large of, wrote that the Baucus bill will result in large pay cuts for middle-class families or inferior coverage compared to what they now have. Tully also raises concerns that the Baucus bill will result in “…a corporate exodus from health care” resulting in more people being forced into the government health care collective which will sharply increase the federal deficit.

  Another thing people need to know is that while the CBO estimated that the bill would reduce the federal deficit over the first ten years, the CBO also acknowledged that their estimate is based on “conceptual language” and not the actual legislation and that “…those estimates are all subject to substantial uncertainty.” In other words, they don’t have a real estimate because they haven’t seen the real legislation.

  Not only that, according to an article in the New York Post by Jeffrey A. Anderson, the CBO also projected that the cost for the second ten years of the health care reform bill will escalate to $2.8 trillion and that cuts to Medicare and related federal programs will be $1.9 trillion. By the year 2030, according to Anderson, the CBO projects that Medicare and other existing health programs will be cut by more than $2.6 trillion. Consequently, the only way the Democrats can pay for their health care bill is by raising taxes, rationing services and cutting Medicare.

  To tie in what happened at the coat store in Columbus, Ohio and the promised free merchandise… imagine an elderly person at the checkout counter, expecting to get a free coat, only to find out that not only do they not get a free coat, they have to give up the coat they have and help pay for a coat for the younger person in line behind them.

  The whole idea that the U.S. government is going to provide health care to every person in America without adding to the federal deficit seems the same as what happened with the woman in the coat store.

  The promise of something “free” created long lines and a mass of people outside trying to get their share. It’s interesting that she got arrested and is currently being held pending a mental health evaluation.

  At least in Columbus, Ohio, promising something you can’t deliver raises serious concerns about mental competency and/or personal integrity. If only that were true in Washington, D.C.….

  About the author: Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.


  1. Nice to see Mr. Palmer quoting the study put out by PricewaterhouseCoopers, especially considering that they admitted they were asked to focus on 4 parts of the bill and ignore the rest. Skewed? Flawed? Both? (links to Politico).

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