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NYT's Carl Hulse, Ignoring History, Assumes ObamaCare Will Save Money

In two front-page stories over the last two days, New York Times Congressional reporter Carl Hulse has relayed as fact the highly debatable claim that Obama-care will actually cut costs, in order to criticize the new Speaker of the House John Boehner's attempts to repeal the legislation.

Here's Hulse in Thursday's "Taking Control, G.O.P. Overhauls Rules In House."

To reverse what they say is a Congressional process tilted toward spending increases, the new Republican majority in the House - over strong Democratic objections - approved rules that would require spending increases to be directly offset with cuts elsewhere. But the rules would allow future tax cuts to be enacted without offsetting spending reductions, and would permit repeal of the health care legislation, which was estimated to save the government more than $140 billion over 10 years, without any requirement that those revenue losses be made up elsewhere.


Here's Hulse in Wednesday's "For Boehner, Power Comes With Caveats."

And the rush to repeal has opened Republicans to the same attacks they employed so devastatingly on Democrats - that despite promises to run a more open House, Republicans are racing to overturn the health care law without hearings, without allowing floor amendments and without worrying about its impact on the federal deficit.

"They talk about making deficit reduction a priority, yet the first thing out of the gate they're planning to do is to try to repeal health care reform, which explodes the deficit," Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrat of Florida, said Tuesday. Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the incoming majority leader, dismissed complaints about the health care battle and suggested that it was a special case that was "litigated in this last election."


Hulse didn't challenge the Democrat's claim, which suggests ignorance of the history of ever-inflating spending on government programs, and is based on slanted government data from the Congressional Budget Office.

At Reason.com, economic Veronique de Rugy rued the "fantasy at work in many official health care cost projections," including a purposely limited report from the CBO that the Times and Democrats have used to argue Obama-care as a cost-saver. de Rugy wrote:

[The CBO report] assumes that Medicare's sustainable growth rate mechanism, which would have reduced physician payments by 21 percent in 2010 alone, actually takes effect. Medicare reimbursement rates are legislated to decline over time but basically never do. Instead, Congress routinely enacts what's known as the "doc fix," or upward payment adjustments. As Politico reported in May, "In 2010 alone, Congress has already headed off three scheduled payment drops - in January, March and April." In fact, as the CBO notes, Congress has kicked the can down the road on payment reductions yet again, putting off the reduction in payment rates until at least December 2010.

ObamaCare doesn't reduce medical costs under even the rosiest of scenarios (that is, projections that take seriously all its creators' assumptions). What we can be certain of is that this legislation increases the amount of money taxpayers will be forced by law to pay for health insurance to the tune of $420 billion over the next 10 years. Claims about ObamaCare's deficit-reduction effects depend on new taxes growing even faster than new spending. Despite the persistent claims of Peter Orszag and other defenders of the president's health care legislation, ObamaCare has nothing to do with cutting costs.


- Clay Waters is director of Times Watch. You can follow him on Twitter.