On June 15th, the Congressional Budget Office issued a crushing blow to President Barack Obama’s health care plan, placing a $1 trillion price tag on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee’s draft legislation. And what did Americans get for their $1 trillion in new debt? A measly16 million net decrease in the number of people uninsured. Liberals in Washington decried the CBO’s findings, complaining that they had scored an incomplete version of the bill.

So this past Friday, the CBO released a fuller scoring of HELP’s legislation, and indeed, the overall impact on our nation’s debt is lower: a mere $597 billion would be added to federal budget deficits over the 2010-2019 period.

How did HELP lower the bill’s budget busting total? Did they “bend the curve” on health care costs? Did they weed out administrative costs? Eliminate waste? Nope. The Washington Post reports:

Committee staffers reworked the bill — and added a new provision requiring most employers to contribute to the cost of health insurance — to arrive at the lower estimate. Under the new proposal, any business with more than 25 workers would be required to offer coverage or pay a $750 penalty per employee.

In other words, the HELP committee wants to pay for their health care plan in classic “tax-and-spend” liberal fashion: by instituting a crippling new tax on our nation’s businesses. And not just any new tax. A tax directed like a heat-seeking missile at job creation: an employer mandate. But don’t take our word for it. President Obama’s White House National Economic Council Director Larry Summers wrote in 1989:

Mandated benefits are like public programs financed by benefit taxes… There is no sense in which benefits become ‘free’ just because the government mandates that employers offer them to workers. … [Minimum] wages cannot fall to offset employers’ cost of providing a mandated benefit, so it is likely to create unemployment.

And the HELP committee bill is still incomplete. Even its most current incarnation still would cover just 39% of uninsured Americans. So the Obama administration is also pushing for a further expansion of Medicaid. Add those costs into the mix, and the final price tag shoots back up to $1.3 trillion. Wonder who the administration plans to tax to make up for that final trillion?

Defending his administration’s economic performance on ABC’s This Week, Vice President Joe Biden told George Stephanopolos: “There was a misreading of just how bad an economy we inherited.” The Obama administration can not blame President Bush forever. They can’t run around threatening to enact a $400 billion tax on employment and then blame others for double-digit unemployment rates. There is an alternative to government-run budget-busting health care, some of which the Obama Administration even supports. Example: removing the tax benefit of employer-sponsored health care coverage, which will untie Americans’ health care coverage from their employers and help move the country towards a truly market-based, consumer-driven health care model. Health care coverage can be expanded in a cost-efficient manner, but only by empowering Americans to make health care decisions with their doctors.

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