Five years ago, I compared Social Security to the Titanic. Insolvency played the part of fatal iceberg. On Monday I noted that the first stage of insolvency — projected back then to take place in 2017 — has been refigured to arrive early. This year.
So much for our leaders’ plan of “not putting off till tomorrow what can be put off a decade.” Decades sure aren’t what they used to be.
Neither are the budget numbers politicians throw around. Take the Democrats’ just-passed medical reform package. Do you really believe it will save us money?
Who’s right depends on the reliability of the reform package’s cost projections. And, from what I can tell, those projections are filled with trickery.
A typical sleight of hand is to project ten years in advance, and extoll how that decade’s first years don’t add much burden to the taxpayer. But that’s only because chunks of the programs stagger into effect over the first half of the decade.
But before you go poring over the bill’s two thousand and more pages, checking the numbers, ask yourself: When have government economists correctly predicted costs of a major new entitlement?
Take Medicare. Initial projections for catastrophic coverage were half of the real amount; Medicare as a whole grew nine times over its promised size; and the costs of Medicare’s Disproportionate Share Hospital Adjustment program proved 17 times higher than originally predicted.
Congress is in the business of making bad law, not good prophecy.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.