A number of conservative commentators, including and especially those writing at this blog, have argued, correctly, that Obamacare is a hugely expensive enterprise that will likely add to the deficits over the next 10 years and beyond. Accordingly, repeal of the bill is a step toward fiscal responsibility.
Recently Yuval Levin restated this logic in a post for National Review, and for his efforts was promptly derided by Jonathan Chait of the New Republic, who concluded that “part of the extraordinary vitriol of the health care debate stems from the fact that, on the Republican side, even the specialists believe things that are simply patently untrue.” Among other objections, Chait claims that Levin was (improperly) counting the cost of the “doc fix” toward the overall cost of Obamacare, thus revealing his cluelessness.
Levin responded to Chait’s attack with a measured post in which he reviews each of Chait’s arguments against the fiscal wisdom repeal, and shows convincingly that, in his words, “Chait misrepresents what I wrote, misrepresents the facts regarding the doc fix question, and misrepresents both the CBO’s and the CMS actuary’s views about the effects of the health-care law.” Chait’s biggest misrepresentation, according to Levin, is suggesting that Levin counted the doc fix as a cost of Obamacare. He didn’t.
If you are interested in the details of the budgetary costs of repeal, which have been rehearsed here and elsewhere many times, I recommend Levin’s explication. One point that bears repeating, though, is that although the doc fix, which changes the reimbursement rates paid to doctors for Medicare services, would have been necessary irrespective of Medicare, that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be mentioned in reference to the new health care law. President Obama promised, and the Democrats continue to claim, comprehensive health care reform. If they want to make that claim to the public, fine — just as long as they don’t then complain when others bring up the aspects of health care crying out for reform that they failed to address.