CTJ Report Confirms Obama's Statement on Costs in Health Care Address

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The Bush Tax Cuts for the Richest Five Percent Cost More than the President's Health Care Proposal

During his address to a joint session of Congress Wednesday night to explain his health care proposal, President Barack Obama noted that his plan would cost less than the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, a fact demonstrated in a report released earlier this week by Citizens for Tax Justice.

"Add it all up, and the plan I'm proposing will cost around $900 billion over ten years - less than we have spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and less than the tax cuts for the wealthiest few Americans that Congress passed at the beginning of the previous administration."

President Barack Obama, Address to Joint Session of Congress, September 9, 2009

A recent report from Citizens for Tax Justice finds that the Bush tax cuts cost almost $2.5 trillion over the decade after they were first enacted (2001-2010). Preliminary estimates from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office show that the House Democrats' health care reform legislation is projected to cost $1 trillion over the decade after it would be enacted (2010-2019). President Obama said during his address to Congress that his health care plan would cost a little less than the House plan, at "around $900 billion over ten years."

As the President said, even the Bush tax cuts "for the wealthiest few" cost more than his health care plan. The direct cost of the tax cuts for just the richest five percent of taxpayers over the 2001-2010 period is $979 billion. (The cost is even greater if one includes interest payments that resulted because the Bush tax cuts were deficit-financed.) In 2010, when all the Bush tax cuts are finally phased in completely, an incredible 52.5 percent of them will go to this wealthiest five percent of taxpayers.

Oddly, many of the lawmakers who claim to be concerned about the cost of the President's health care plan are the same lawmakers who supported the Bush tax cuts, despite their much greater costs.

Read the new report from Citizens for Tax Justice.
These figures make clear that costs cannot be the real concern of lawmakers who oppose health care reform and yet supported the Bush tax cuts. Their position seems to be that showering benefits on the wealthiest five percent of taxpayers and leaving the bill for future generations is preferable to making health care available for all at a much lower cost and paying that cost up front. That demonstrates a different set of priorities than most Americans have, but it doesn't demonstrate much concern about costs.

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