Lately, you just can’t tell your political promises for healthcare reform apart without a scorecard. The New York Times says some of the health industry interest groups at last week’s love-in did not agree on what they were signing up for over the next ten years. It appears that the president’s opening pitch that the six major healthcare organizations were voluntarily committing to cut the rate of growth of national healthcare spending by 1.5 percentage points each year—equal to over $2 trillion—was “just a bit outside,” like Nuke LaLoosh’s fastball in “Bull Durham” that hit the mascot. That version of the pledge lasted no more than a few days, before several lobbyists explained that the promised savings would “ramp up” gradually, they would not be subject to rigid “scoring rules” used by the Congressional Budget Office, and that the lower growth rate was “a target over a 10-year period.”
Or, as Bill Murray explained to an alluring but demonic Sigourney Weaver in the movie “Ghostbusters”: “I make it a rule never to get involved with possessed people.” (Long pause with sounds of passionate embrace.) “Actually, it’s more of a guideline than a rule.”
Stay tuned for today’s Senate Finance Committee release of its laundry list of more than $1 trillion, and as much as $2 trillion, in revenue raisers and spending offsets—which everyone will be in favor of in general concept; but none in particular. Next stop after that—the sofa cushions in Roosevelt Room, for loose change left behind.