The late "Gonzo" journalist Hunter S. Thompsononce remarked, "writing is a hard dollar."
As someone who has written or at least tried to write forthe better part of three decades, I have certainly felt that pain.
In that time I have earned anywhere from a scant $50 fora full-length article to nearly $2 per word.
Now imagine what it would be like write something with aprice tag that runs $2.3 million per word. And no, that's not a numerical fauxpas or an ecstasy-induced fantasy.
But that's precisely what the Senate Health Bill, at2,074 pages, or more than 370,000 words, is projected to cost taxpayers, nowthat it has been voted to be put up for a full debate.
Jokes aside, this bill, when broken down, reminds me ofthe type of accounting that Gus, a nightclub owner I knew in college, regularlypracticed. He had one set of books for his accountant and the other he keptsafely tucked away in the beer refrigerator amidst haphazardly stacked cases ofBudweiser and Heineken.
The bill, eagerly presented by Senate Majority LeaderHarry Reid, D-Nev., bears more than a passing resemblance to Gus's curiousledgers. The measure, as advertised, costs $849 billion over a 10-year period.But according to those who have actually drilled down more than an inch (anumber that probably excludes at least 90 percent of Congress) the actual costsof this monstrosity really aren't triggered until year five. Whereupon, thetrue costs over the subsequent years will far likely approach or exceed $2 trillion,with some estimates going as high as $2.5 trillion.
In 2014, for example, the bill's cost is $9 billion. Butfive years later in 2019, the annual price tag will be nearly $200 billionaccording to the Congressional Budget Office, and that's with fingers and toescrossed in prayer that the public option would essentially not cost anything.
The bill also threatens to boost both taxes and fines bynearly $900 billion, which incredibly, is roughly the original cost of thebill.
For employers alone, failure to provide health carewould, under this plan, be punishable by a $750 fine per employee. With anunemployment rate that exceeds 10 percent, would anyone care to guess whatincentive that would give to hire workers - especially those with lower skills?
Reid also claims that it would reduce the deficit by some$127 billion over the next 10 years (which as one astute columnist pointed out,is $50 billion less than the federal government ran up in October alone). Butagain, that is contingent on so many improbable gadget plays and scenarios asto be almost laughable.
The recent imbroglio surrounding the frequency ofmammogram recommendations should send shock waves through at least half thepopulation about the effectiveness of government-established medical boards andagencies.
Any way you look at it the Senate reform bill is aboutthe most expensive piece of literature on record.
And certainly not worth the price.
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