Medicare

Obama: "When Medicare was started, it was a small program. It grew." You don't say!

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Don't you just love it when Obama gets his compromise on? From today's presser:

It's a big, diverse country and people have a lot of complicated positions. It means that in order to get stuff done, we're going to compromise.  This is why FDR, when he started Social Security, it only affected widows and orphans.  You did not qualify.  And yet now it is something that really helps a lot of people.  When Medicare was started, it was a small program. It grew.

Yummy, yummy, yummy, I got tax money in my tummy

I take it Obama intends this as a defense of political compromise and starting small. He's doing that bipartisan thing he does, where he explains how the system works, the limits it imposes, and how he plans to work for the good within it anyway. If you like presidents who, as Obama said, "get stuff done," you are probably eating this like extra buttery movie-theater popcorn, (which, like lots of presidential rhetoric, is a form of cheap junk food doused in gooey, goopy flavoring that always ends up costing way too much money – but somehow lots of people love it anyway).

The growth of Medicare, though, is hardly something to brag about.

Sure, Obama is right on the facts: The program started far smaller than it is now, and it grew – and grew and grew and grew, like some mutant, money-sucking,  fairy-tale beanstalk that no one in Congress had the strength to cut down. The rapid growth wasn't just some manageable result of the program becoming a more mature, either.  Instead, it was wracked by serious cost problems from year one. Those cost problems became a significant public policy issue – enough to attract Senate committee attention – within just three years of starting operation.

Cost estimates prepared by the House Ways and Means Committee assumed that if 95 percent of eligible seniors signed up in the first year, the maximum total cost would be about $1.3 billion. They were right about the high enrollment figure. But total cost? Not so much. The program's first year cost was $4.6 billion –nearly four times as high as projected. That wasn't a one-time spike either; from there on out, total spending continued to pull away from the estimates. In 1970, for example, the committee had projected that hospital spending alone would amount to just $3.1 billion. Instead, the tally came in at $7.1 billion. In 1975, hospital spending was expected to come in around $4.2 billion. The actual price? $15.6 billion.

Since then, bureaucrats have tried a slew of complex schemes to keep payments in check. But in the long run, none have really worked; Medicare continues to snarf down money while screaming "Feed me, Seymour!" at any Congress-person within earshot. Now even entitlement-hating Republicans are terribly, terribly afraid to touch it. Which is why ObamaCare includes an independent board tasked with capping Medicare spending at just above the growth of GDP. Maybe it will work this time! Right?!!?!?

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42 responses to “Obama: "When Medicare was started, it was a small program. It grew." You don't say!

  1. “Social Security, […..] now it is something that really helps a lot of people.”
    So did Bernie Madoff. For a while. Then the money disappeared.

  2. I love how he points out that social security and medicare have morphed way beyond what their original purpose was for, and yet he and everyone else in DC can’t figure out why they cost so much money.

    1. That’s because he believes in these programs, regardless of their cost. If it’s “the right thing to do,” then we have to “find a way” to “pay” for them.

      1. Especially since we’re the “wealthiest nation on Earth”.

  3. You tell people you are going to pay for their stuff with little or no limits, and you end up paying for more than you expect? Only politicians could be surprised about such a turn of events.

    And Obama naturally considers the program a success because large numbers of Americans are dependent upon it. The fact that it’s been a bottomless money pit is not something to factor into success or failure.

  4. As a glutton-American, I must defend movie theater popcorn as a much tastier treat than a speech by Obama, husband of that nutrition-pimping chow hound.

  5. But this time they will get the cost estimate right.

    Honest.

    Stop laughing.

    Really.

    You’ll hurt yourself.

    1. I’m thinking there should be a constitutional amendment that requires the CBO multiply all their estimates by exp(1 + t/2) where t is time measured in years. Basically, it assumes that actual initial cost is ~2.7 larger and then will grow by a factor of ~2.7 every two years hence.

      1. edit: “~2.7 times larger…”

      2. No no, the right function is

        t*exp(1+t^2)

        and the units on time shall not exceed two weeks.

        1. PS: What you’ve missed is the fact that everything is bigger and better now. Your function was valid BB (Before the Bailouts). Mine is valid AB (After the Bailouts).

  6. When Medicare was started, it was a small program. It grew.

    This isn’t something you should be proud of, President dude. But you probably are.

  7. I don’t know if any of you watched the Obama presser from yesterday for the tax cuts (Hotair has it- Obama presser: Read my lips, no new taxes ? until 2013) but what amazes me about his speech is his complete disregard for logic and reason.

    He says he doesn’t like giving tax cuts to people making more than $250K, and plans on raising them again in two years so don’t get excited because they aren’t permanent. But then he says that he wants to cut taxes permanently for certain groups, especially for small businesses so they can hire more people.

    How many people running small businesses -that could hire enough people to matter- are also making LESS than $250k?

    I know he ignores this because he has to adhere to the party line, but it’s just so incredibly illogical that I wonder if even HE gets annoyed with the ridiculousness of what he’s saying.

    1. You had it right the second time, and Hot Air had it wrong: That was a speech, not a “presser.” The press conference was in fact today.

      I’d point that out at the Hot Air thread, but of course they have their idiotic “can’t comment here unless you happened to get in during some random open-registration afternoon a couple of years ago” thing going on.

      1. Presser, speech, obfuscating pontification, whatever.

        The best news I heard from before this speech/whatever was that when someone saw Reid leaving the meeting prior to Obama’s speech it was said he looked like someone shot his dog.

        That can only be a good thing for country, whatever may have caused it.

      2. The comment section of HotAir is the best evidence that intelligent life has arisen nowhere.

    2. I don’t think so. He’s one of those people that is “all extrovert, no technical abilities” that do so well rising up through the gov’t ranks.

      1. But I heard he was a big JFK fan? Wouldn’t have at least heard about Kennedy’s tax cuts?

        You’re probably right, I guess it’s just more projection/hope on my part.

    3. How many people running small businesses -that could hire enough people to matter- are also making LESS than $250k? …. I wonder if even HE gets annoyed with the ridiculousness of what he’s saying.

      Nope. You’re missing the underlying principle the liberals are aiming at.

      When the liberals are done remaking America in The Image of The Liberal Dream, there will be no one making over $250k. Because if there were, it would represent a grievous wealth inequality.

      Liberal ethics is, at core, socialism. In the end we shall all be equal, interchangeable cogs in the system (and in case you’re wondering, this is nothing at all like the Marxist criticism that factory workers are just interchangeable cogs in the production line machine).

      Except for straight white males, who are by definition the most evil of all creatures and who and will, naturally, occupy some markedly lower rung in society’s hierarchy, but it won’t matter anyway because socialism is bent on doing away with class distinctions and in the end we’re all going to be the same.

      And we’ll live happily ever after.

      So if you think you see contradictions here, you just haven’t gotten the message yet.

  8. This is why FDR, when he started Social Security, it only affected widows and orphans. You did not qualify.

    Funny that Barry should mention SS, especially since the reason SS ballooned out-of-control is that congressional reptiles and future presidents used SS expansion to buy votes from those who didn’t qualify.

  9. And the Bushpigs wanted Medicare to grow even LARGER, and to do that they invented Part D, a price-fix scheme that allowed Republicans to grow government further under the guise of “conservatism”!

    Lets all applaud the Big Gov GOP!!!

    1. Can’t we hate both of them?

      I don’t remember an onslaught of democratic representatives who fought tooth and nail against passing Part D.

      1. Of course both are worthy of hatred. That is my entire theme here – the fact that we have two statist parties with the GOP only slightly worse (due to religion) than the Democrats so I won’t miss Big Catholicism.

        1. I’ve never been under the impression that you thought the GOP was only “slightly” worse. Maybe that’s my fault.

          Either way, I think the democrats are WAY WAY WAY WAY fucking WORSE than the GOP at this point. Everything Bush did wrong has been amplified times a thousand since Obama took office. Everything the GOP majority did wrong ten years ago has been made exponentially worse since the Democrats took over.

          Still, they are both worthy of scorn and derision.

        2. shrike|12.7.10 @ 10:54PM|#
          “Of course both are worthy of hatred. That is my entire theme here…”

          Yes, ass-sucking, brain-dead goat ass licker is on the side of angels. We know because ass-sucking, brain-dead goat ass licker told us so.
          Oh, and I’m still waiting for those predictions rather than history reports about how you’re such a great market timer, ass-sucking, brain-dead goat ass licker.

        3. Still trying to convince yourself that you told Father O’Malley “no,” shriek?

          1. okay, I lied. I love the Democratic Party. I’d have its babies if I could.

      2. Their only objection – a correct one, I might add, but insufficient – was that Bush didn’t raise taxes to actually pay for it.

        1. Not true. They also objected that it didn’t have price controls, and that it didn’t spend enough money as well.

  10. shrike|12.7.10 @ 10:35PM|#
    “And the Bushpigs…”
    Comment from ass-sucking, brain-dead goat ass licker noted.

  11. Generally I do not post on blogs, but I would like to say that this post really forced me to do so, Excellent post!

  12. It was simply unforeseeable that Medicare and Medicaid would get as expensive as they did. FDR and LBJ lacked the hindsight you ‘tarditarians revel in.

    And, since you seem to hope ObamaCare will spiral out of control cost-wise, I somehow don’t think you’ll be disappointed if it does. Being right is better than having a semi-functioning country, isn’t it? Don’t worry, I’m sure the GOP will gut what’s good about the bill so that it will fail, all the while you can cry “I told you so.”

    So, while the politicians are trying to solve our problems, the libertoids are sitting their crystal ball predicting defeat. I’m definitely throwing in my lot with those who want to do nothing and criticize those who do.

  13. This is why FDR, when he started Social Security, it only affected widows and orphans.

    Actually, IIANM Social Security originally only affected retired old folks. And it was only supposed to be a plan to supplement private savings and company pensions.

    The widows and orphans were added later.

    And it was only in the 1970s when it was suddenly discovered that due to the existence of Social Security many people had not bothered to provide for their retirements and instead had retired believing that SS was going to take care of everything that SS benefits were boosted thus making it completely unsustainable.

  14. When Medicare was started, it was a small program. It grew.

    When [name government program] was started, it was a small program. It grew.

    1. And the problem is?

      1. Oh, no “problem” at all, Citizen!

        Oh, BTW, here’s your part of the bill. Gotta run…

        1. The rich will pay the bill, not me. If we just raise taxes on the rich, all our problems go away. That is an objective, indisputable truth, and only the knee-jerk liberteens would say otherwise.

          1. Is there a Poe’s Law for political spoofing?

            1. There oughta be!

  15. This is why FDR, when he started Social Security, it only affected widows and orphans. You did not qualify.

    Can we file this under The Inexhaustible Brilliance of Barack Obama? Because as Isaac pointed out, this is entirely wrong, and he actually has it backwards. I’m sure the legions of media fact checkers will jump on his ass for saying something so stupid any day now… wait for it…

  16. With government, this is always the way. Grossly underestimate cost, express surprise at the over-runs and keep growing the programs and increasing dependency on the elected using other peoples’ money. Then, leverage tax revenue stream to increase largesse at no apparent cost by passing the interest expense onto current and future taxpayers.

    This is why no quantity of money is enough for government. They really do believe in something for nothing. When after all have you ever met a lawyer that could count? And us voters have been far too happy with the result to call them on it.

    Robert Fuller
    Hopewell, NJ

  17. If you’re a supporter of mine, you need to remember that it’s easy to make a small government program, have it cost billions of dollars more than we project on day one, and then have it grow over time to cost literally thousands of times more than that.

    If you’re an independent, you need to keep in mind that Republican exaggeration of the expense of my small new government programs is motivated solely by racism and a desire to hurt poor people.

    If you’re a member of the press and you’re thinking of mentioning that I used the word “solely” to refer to two things, you need to remember that everyone you know and care about worships me, so if you want to attack a god, go poke holes in the Christmas story.

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