Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Jefferson Bible and Health Care Reform

Thomas Jefferson apparently found the life of Jesus to be of utmost fascination in that he considered Jesus to be the foremost of all philosophers who have ever lived to have conveyed the superior moral code by which we should all live.

Jefferson just didn’t think Christ was born of the Virgin Mary and performed all the miracles as the New Testament said He did, being the reasoned child of the Enlightenment that our third President was.

So one day at Monticello, he took some scissors and cut out all of the stories about the miracles Jesus performed from the Bible and hence, was left with a pure moral code that became known as 'Jefferson’s Bible’.

We suggest a similar effort be done with the health care bill that just passed the Senate this morning as sort of a Christmas tree gift to America, laden with all sorts of favors and ‘gimme-that’s’ such as the Medicaid-free-for-life cards given out to Senators Landrieu of Louisiana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska. 

(Why not just go ahead and make Medicaid free to all 50 states while we are at it?  If it is good enough for Nebraska and Louisiana, isn’t is good enough for North Carolina for example?)

Let’s take a look at all of the ‘miracles’ that will have to occur for this health care bill not to blow a monumental hole in the federal budget over the next 2 decades.  (We will wager dollars-to-doughnuts that this bill will wind up costing at least 3 times as CBO currently projects.  Why?  Because every other health care bill has always wound up costing at least that much and more)

Here is what the CBO Director, the one whom Senator Reid and President Obama are hailing as the guy who says this bill will ‘reduce budget deficits over the next 20 years’, has said in his letter to Senator Reid.

There is so much ‘CYA’ and caveating going on in this letter that you almost have to feel sorry for this guy.

‘In the subsequent decade, the collective effect of its provisions would probably be continued reductions in federal budget deficits if all of the provisions continued to be fully implemented. Those estimates are subject to substantial uncertainty.

Key Considerations. These longer-term calculations assume that the provisions are enacted and remain unchanged throughout the next two decades, which is often not the case for major legislation. 

The legislation would maintain and put into effect a number of procedures that might be difficult to sustain over a long period of time.

The long-term budgetary impact could be quite different if key provisions of the legislation were ultimately changed or not fully implemented.”

We suggest you curl up before the fire over the next couple of days and try to read the CBO director’s letter in its entirety before you make up your mind about this health care reform bill.  You won’t get this information anywhere on the cable news media or in the local newspaper.

In the spirit of Christian charity and Christmas, we hope that the President and Senator Reid are correct when they assert that this health care bill will indeed bring down future deficits for the sake of our children. We are cautious enough to want to hedge our bets on the downside that it won't.

And if this bill truly reduces the rate of growth in medical care cost inflation, we, once again, will commit to starting to raise funds to chisel the President’s visage alongside of the other great Presidents on Mount Rushmore.

So start saving your pennies….just in case.

Mount Rushmore picture courtesy of


  1. All good points. But what we never see in this whole debate is the comparison with what would it cost if we do nothing?

    We spend 2x more per person on healthcare than the next developed country with poorer outcomes. And of course, that's increasing at a signficiant rate every year?

    So you'd think that we would think that something needed to change. I have not idea if the current house and senate bills are good or bad, way to complex for me. But are they really worse than continuing the current situation?

  2. Mark: Merry Christmas in Durham, by the way.

    The argument that 'doing something has to be better than doing nothing' ignores the fact that there is probably a 50-50 chance that this will be worse than doing nothing, as well as doing better.

    Status quo is horrible....but never forget the propensity for government to vastly underestimate the costs of any program for political purposes...war in Iraq; Afghanistan to name just 2. Every single health care bill passed since 1965 (Medicare/Medicaid) has spiraled out of control.

    This bill does nothing to address the structural underlying cost-drivers such as third party payors; tort reform and raising the eligibility age for fact, they tried to lower it? What were they thinking? Or drinking? Or smoking?

    This bill could prove to be the Mother of all lessons that 'doing nothing might be better than doing anything under the sun"..unfortunately.


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