Raising the Curve, Not Bending It

Doug Elmendorf, the director of the Congressional Budget Office, has one of the most difficult and important jobs in Washington: delivering tough budget news to Congress.

Americans are fortunate that he is so good at it.

Today, Doug’s message was particularly stark — and, in many circles, unwelcome — as he reported that the health reform proposals now under consideration by Congress would worsen our already-daunting fiscal outlook.

As noted by the Associated Press:

From the beginning of the health care debate, Obama has insisted that any overhaul must “bend the curve” of rapidly rising costs that threaten to swamp the budgets of government, businesses and families.

Asked by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., if the evolving legislation would bend the cost curve, the budget director responded that — as things stand now — “the curve is being raised.”

Explained Elmendorf: “In the legislation that has been reported, we do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount. And on the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs.”

Even if the legislation doesn’t add to the federal deficit over the next years, Elmendorf said costs over the long run would keep rising at an unsustainable pace.

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