Have I mentioned that no matter what else Jonathan Chait writes, we love him for things like this?
...to more than 11 million, and the conservative response to the law’s demonstrable success at carrying out its goals has been fascinating to behold. Measured by volume, the right-wing backlash has diminished severely, as great roaring waves of furious anger have given way to irregular ripples of discontent. But measured by its content, very little has changed.... To take a typical example, here is Stephen Moore, "chief economist at the Heritage Foundation, making his case", such as it is, that Obamacare has failed to meet its cost targets. Perhaps the most revealing aspect of Moore’s column is the fact that, five years after its passage, the chief economist of the most influential conservative think tank in the United States lacks even a passing familiarity with it....
Obamacare has two fiscal goals... to pay for its expanded coverage... to change the incentives of the health-care system to gradually bring down health-care inflation... “bending the curve”.... Moore’s column... makes clear he does not understand either.... Moore begins by defining Obamacare’s goal as reducing the deficit:
If there were a contest for the biggest lie in Washington over the past 30 years, it would be hard to compete with President Obama's boast that he would put 30 million more Americans on Medicaid and Obamacare subsidies, and this would reduce the budget deficit.... A new Congressional Budget Office report has blown the lid off the Obama whopper fib.
Keep in mind what Moore is claiming here. Obama promised that the ACA would reduce the deficit, and according to Moore, the Congressional Budget Office has a new report showing this promise was false. If true, this would be enormous news. In fact, no such finding exists.... There is no CBO report proving that Obamacare increased the deficit, as we shall see when Moore describes what he read:
The Congressional Budget Office reports that through the first four months of fiscal 2015, federal spending is rising at an 8.2 percent clip.... One area accounts for almost the entire budget blowout: Obamacare. Medicaid spending is up a stratospheric 23 percent so far this year.... Obamacare has turned out to be, just as feared, the largest expansion of government since the Great Society.
Notice the switch here? Moore began his column by claiming that the CBO has proven that it’s a “lie” that Obamacare would reduce the deficit. But the data he provides... merely shows that federal spending on... Obamacare is up in 2015. That is completely different than saying Obamacare has increased the deficit. Indeed, the design of Obamacare all along was to spend money to cover the uninsured, and to cover the cost of this new spending with a combination of spending cuts and higher taxes. There is nothing in Moore’s column to indicate he even understands this. Instead he proceeds to switch his accusation yet again to claim that Obamacare has led to “higher health costs”:
This stampede of rising health costs was so predictable that most budget experts acknowledged--even liberals, privately--costs would spike when the new health law insurance subsidies kicked in.... How could we possibly put tens of millions more Americans on Medicaid and other taxpayer assistance and also save money at the same time?... And this is a president who lectures Republicans in Congress about "simple math."
Moore’s argument is so incoherent that it is hard to follow, but let me try to explain. Higher health costs is not the same thing as higher federal spending on health care. Health-care costs is how much we pay for our treatments.... The idea of “bending the curve” is that, in addition to simply paying for the cost of covering the uninsured, Obamacare would try to tame the long-term trend toward health-care inflation. That is not only happening, it is happening in a far more dramatic way than even the most optimistic advocates predicted.... Moore’s belief that we see a “stampede of rising health costs” is the complete opposite of reality. Having utterly butchered this fact, he immediately switches to yet another argument--Obamacare is failing because people are getting coverage through it:
But now that Obamacare is the law of the land, the White House openly boasts about how many people are relying on taxpayers for health coverage.... How is putting more people on Medicaid a triumph? Medicaid is a welfare program. If this were a well-functioning economy with good jobs, Medicaid rolls would be shrinking....
So Moore’s argument here is that covering the uninsured is bad because it’s “welfare.” Note that the colloquial definition of welfare is income support for working-age people who aren’t working.... Medicaid, unlike traditional welfare, is not a program that gives people income support as a substitute for wage income. It is available to people who have jobs but not health insurance.... One might morally object to the government subsidizing health insurance for people who can’t afford it on their own. But Bill Clinton is not and was not one of the people who has ever shared this belief....
There is not a single substantive claim in this column that appears to be true.