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Posted by on Jul 17, 2009 in Economy, Health | 12 comments

We’re All Lemmings Now

Lemming.jpgPatrick Edaburn pointed out last night that the Washington Post (not exactly a bastion of Right wing conservatism) reported on recent CBO findings which indicate that the proposed House health reform plan will actually drive costs up, rather than producing the savings we’ve been promised.

The numbers don’t seem to be the issue here, since they appear to be clear to everyone except the plan’s backers in Congress. More amusing was Patrick’s prediction that Democrats and their supporters would try to shoot the messenger rather than defending the strength of the program.

Considering that 1) the CBO has long been recognized as non partisan, 2) these same Democrats loved the CBO when it made not so positive reports about Bush policies and 3) the Democrats control Congress (and therefore any partisanship in the office would logically tilt to them not to the minority party) the reaction is a bit odd to say the least.

Well, we didn’t have long to wait. Steve Benen at Washington Monthly was quick to point fingers, not at the CBO, but at the Republicans who dared to quote their analysis.

BEFORE THE GOP REDISCOVERS ITS LOVE OF THE CBO…. Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, told lawmakers this morning that the health care reform measures under consideration would likely increase government spending over the next decade, rather than save the government money.

Congressional Republicans, who routinely insist the CBO is not to be trusted, have, not surprisingly, pounced on Elmendorf remarks.

He then goes on to issue a list of demands that Republicans should agree to before they are allowed to quote the CBO or criticize the health reform plan.

Steve, I like you. I read your column regularly and I’ve linked to it here on a number of occasions. You’ve even linked to me once or twice. But if the only response you can come up with to the frightening prospect of these numbers is to yell at the Republicans for quoting them, it’s time to ask if we shouldn’t step back for a moment and take a deep breath. Is it at all possible that we have elected President Lemming and the Congressional All Lemming Review? If you take a quick glance at the scenery going by, isn’t it conceivable that we’re on the verge of getting shoved off a very tall cliff by all the lemmings coming up behind us?

The stimulus package was bungled badly, even though something certainly needed to be done. The numbers stacking up in terms of debt with no realistic path to recovering it are beginning to frighten even the most liberal analysts. And as near as I can tell, the Vice President is so alarmed that he’s taken to drinking heavily early in the day and spouting unrelated sentences to the press. Health care reform that not only wipes out an entire industry but adds to these mounting costs surely deserves a pause in the process and a more critical look.

The country is facing challenges and everyone seems to agree that we need to address them. But this cavalcade of spending and projection of crippling tax brackets should really be jarring all of us out of familiar patterns of behavior and into some sober, serious questions about exactly how we got into this handbasket and where it’s going right now.