What Hennessy concludes is that the President routinely says things like this:
Now, what I’ve proposed is going to cost roughly $900 billion — $800 billion to $900 billion. That’s a lot of money. Keep in mind it’s over 10 years. So when you hear some of these figures thrown out there, this is not per year, this is over 10 years. So let’s assume it’s about $80 billion a year. It turns out that about two-thirds of that could be paid for by eliminating waste in the existing system.
Problem? Best estimates and the loading sequence of the benefits are calculated to average $160 billion per year rather the $80 billion the President keeps claiming. Moreover: current predictions are that by 2019 the cost will have reached a annualized $202 billion.
Here's what Hennessy concludes:
So the President is off by at least a factor of two.
This becomes particularly misleading when the President compares his $80 B annual new cost to $17-$18 B in savings from Medicare Advantage. The listener hears that MA savings can offset more than 20% of the cost, when in reality it’s more like 10%.
Is this nitpicking? Why is it important?
We’re discussing tens and hundreds of billions of dollars here. Each billion matters.
The aggregate cost of the new entitlement is the most important fiscal fact in this policy proposal.
One of the hardest elements of passing the bill is getting agreement on how to offset the proposed new spending. The President’s statements make it appear that this problem is easier to solve than in reality.
Everything the President says should be accurate and verifiable.
This is a repeated mistake. That should never happen.
Someone on the White House staff needs to tell the President not to use this arithmetic. And it’s disappointing that it appears no one in the White House press corps has asked about this basic factual error.
See, there's a real problem with the health insurance reform debate in this country when the opposition party is making shit up about the program for which the President is making up the cost numbers.
Rocks. Glass houses. Two wings of the Demopublican Party and all that.