CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The Republican congresswoman says the health care reform law signed by President Obama -- a measure which she vehemently opposes -- at most could add $260 billion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years. She adds that it might really be as low as $59 billion. Either way, Schmidt's arithmetic adds up to far less stress on federal finances than the $16 billion per month going for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is way less than the estimated $323 billion proposed for new jet fighters. Jean Schmidt's math seems to show health care is not the evil budget monster that will devour the national treasury and bankrupt the nation. Indeed, the numbers tossed around by Schmidt aren't all that frightening, and look quite at odds with GOP warnings that health care reform has put the U.S. on the eve of destruction.
For example, the Congressional Research Service puts the cost of the wars to date at $1.05 trillion. So far, $299 billion has been spent in Afghanistan. Another $747.3 million has been spent in Iraq -- a nation the U.S. invaded to search for weapons of mass destruction that did not exist. By Schmidt's reckoning, the Iraq War has already cost U.S. taxpayers three times as much as health care will if all goes wrong between today and 2020. (This year's appropriation for the wars is $139 billion to the Department of Defense.)
Schmidt, of course, hews to the GOP line that health care is a disaster. But her numbers indicate just the opposite. She wrote in today's Cincinnati Enquirer: "Yet once all of the budget gimmicks and unrealistic future cuts are removed, the plan will actually add between $59 and $260 billion to the national debt over the next 10 years . . . They understand this measure is about creating a new government entitlement to give coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans. A laudable goal, but a dream we simply cannot afford."
But besides the wars, other items already in the federal budget are adding more, much more to the debt. The October 2008 TARP Bill which passed under Republican George W. Bush, had $700 billion in spending. Most of the money went to bailout big banks and Wall Street, but some was used for GM and Chrysler. The stimulus bill passed last year under Democratic President Obama was for $787 billion. And then there is the plan to build the F-35 joint strike fighter jet -- the pricetag is estimated at $323 billion for about 2,500 of the planes.