Clinton and Obama Claim Obamacare Will Slash the Deficit

While Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) filibustered the funding of Obamacare, two Democratic presidents claimed the law is making health insurance cheaper for individuals and actually reduce deficit spending.

President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton spoke in a talk show like setting Tuesday in New York in a forum about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, sponsored by the Clinton Global Initiative.

NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 24: Former U.S. President Bill Clinton (L) and U.S. President Barack Obama wave on stage during the annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting on September 24, 2013 in New York City. Timed to coincide with the United Nations General Assembly, CGI brings together heads of state, CEOs, philanthropists and others to help find solutions to the world’s major problems. Credit: Getty Images

“You remember our president said our structural deficit would disappear if we had a consistent health care system in terms of cost with the French and Germans,” Clinton said.

“In the last three years, since we started doing this, rise in health care costs has dropped for three years in a row for the first time in 50 years,” Clinton later added. “Before that, the costs were going up at three times the rate of inflation for a decade.”

Obama praised the law for being fiscally responsible, arguing that costs will shrink and thus so will government expenditures.

“We’ve raised enough money to pay for providing health insurance for those who don’t have it through providing tax credits in the market place and at the same time, because we’re driving down costs, we actually end up saving a little money,” Obama said. “It is a net reduction of our deficit. The irony of those who are talking about repealing Obamacare because of it’s so wildly expensive is if they actually repealed the law, it would add to the deficit.”

But a non-partisan government report released last week said the slower rate of increased costs is due to the slow economy. The National Health Expenditures Report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) states that health care costs will be on the upswing.

“By 2022, the ACA is projected to reduce the number of uninsured people by 30 million, add approximately 0.1 percentage-point to average annual health spending growth over the full projection period, and increase cumulative health spending by roughly $621 billion,” the report states.

“Health spending growth through 2013 is expected to remain slow because of the sluggish economic recovery, continued increases in cost-sharing requirements for the privately insured, and slow growth for public programs,” the CMS report adds. “These factors lead to projected growth rates of near 4 percent through 2013.”

The increase will be in part because of Obamacare and anticipated economic growth, the report says.

“However, improving economic conditions, combined with the coverage expansions in the Affordable Care Act and the aging of the population, drive faster projected growth in health spending in 2014 and beyond,” the report continued. “Expected growth for 2014 is 6.1 percent, with an average projected growth of 6.2 percent per year thereafter. Over the 2012–22 period, national health spending is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 5.8 percent. By 2022 health spending financed by federal, state, and local governments is projected to account for 49percent of national health spending and to reach a total of $2.4 trillion.”

A recent Forbes magazine analysis found the law would increase health care costs by $7,450 for the average family of four.

In the face of a potential government shutdown over funding the law the president is going on the offensive to change public opinion on the law. Part of that offensive is turning to the politician who was instrumental in his 2012 reelection.

Obama was able to do what Clinton could not, which was push a massive health care overhaul through Congress. A Democratic-controlled Congress shot down the Clinton-backed plan in 1994.

Obama reminded the former president of his failure bringing up the well known “Harry and Louise” ad campaign that helped sway public opinion against the Clinton universal health care plan.

“Sometimes people come up to me and say ‘well, if this is such a good deal, how come the polls show it’s not popular,” Obama said. One of the things that you and I both know is that when it comes to health care, there is no more personal and intimate decision, and this is something that people really care about. And frankly, the devil you know is often better than the devil you don’t know. That’s what Harry and Louise were all about back in the 90s. It was scaring people with the prospect of change.”