The most comprehensive view of a program's projected shortfall comes from calculating the present value of all of its future outlays and subtracting any new revenue sources. The House plan has a present-value shortfall of $13.6 trillion. That's the amount of additional money that must be set aside, in today's dollars, to put this program on a sustainable course. This estimate optimistically assumes that health-care costs will eventually grow with the general inflation rate (they're currently growing much faster).The latest installment in outsourced economic criticism in these difficult times.
This enormous shortfall is equal to about 1.6 percent of all future projected GDP, or 3.5 percent of all future payrolls subject to Social Security taxes. From those numbers, this additional burden might actually seem manageable. But President Obama promised that he would raise taxes only on those in "rich" households.
That's where the arithmetic gets especially interesting. Funding the new health-care plan on the backs of households making $200,000 or more per year would require permanently increasing their annual total tax payments by about 50 percent. So, for example, a household that currently pays $50,000 in federal income taxes would need to pay another $25,000. Remember, however, that Social Security and Medicare already face enormous shortfalls. Shoring up these programs — another Obama campaign promise — would require collecting 328 percent more tax revenue from the rich. No, we didn't forget a decimal point: That is three hundred and twenty-eight percent.
Most households making between $200,000 and $500,000 per year would not have enough money to pay their federal, state, and local tax bills, much less eat. Rich households in California or New York would not be able to pay their tax bills regardless of their incomes.
We cannot allow federal health-care subsidies — mainly Medicare and Medicaid — to continue to grow faster than inflation indefinitely. The challenge is to find ways to make the nation's commitments to retirees and others sustainable without harming economic growth prospects. In this regard, the Obama administration is charting a course in the wrong direction — expanding entitlements on the backs of our nation's job creators. The math will work against the Obama administration and, eventually, against us all.