Click here to listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM & FM, Friday, March 26, 2010.
Years ago, I worked with a guy named Dennis. Dennis was a spendthrift. Whatever was the newest, coolest thing to have, Dennis had first.
One day, Dennis showed up with a brand new Mercedes-Benz. A bunch of us stood out in the parking lot looking at it and the inevitable guy discussion arose along the lines of how German cars drive compared to American cars, how Mercedes compares to BMW, how much maintenance a Mercedes needs compared to an American luxury car and so on and so forth.
Nowhere in the discussion did any of us say to Dennis what we were all thinking. Dennis couldn’t afford a Mercedes. And that thought led to the next one, namely, what idiot loaned Dennis the money to buy a Mercedes?
Dennis and his Mercedes come to mind as I contemplate the signing into law of the 2,700 page health care bill earlier this week.
We who have long opposed this legislation are pretty upset. We’re upset not only that it passed, we’re upset by the way that it passed – a partisan, sordid, filthy procedural exercise that would break the hearts of the Founders.
We’re upset because many believe that it is only a portent of things to come. As a commenter named L. Miles said in his comment to last week’s post, why stop with ObamaCare? Why not ObamaHousing, ObamaGroceries and ObamaClothing? He has a point. If you act on the belief that health care is a right, based on the fact that health care is a basic human need, it logically follows that food, clothing and shelter are also rights and should be provided through a government entitlement.
I think that ObamaCare is one of the worst ideas ever to make it through Congress. Others think it’s a giant step forward.
But neither side of that debate matters. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in favor of ObamaCare of if you hate it. It matters no more when discussing ObamaCare than our discussion of the pros and cons of German auto engineering mattered when we saw Dennis’s Mercedes.
What mattered with Dennis was that Dennis couldn’t afford a Mercedes. What matters with ObamaCare is exactly the same thing.
We can’t afford it.
When has a federal spending program ever met its original cost projections? Name me one instance. Every time the Congress passes a spending bill, the costs exceed the projections, usually by an order of magnitude.
Right now, before ObamaCare, the Treasury (and that means you and me) is borrowing forty cents of every dollar it spends. It’s exactly as if a household is taking a cash advance on the MasterCard every month in order to make the payments on the VISA.
In February, Berkshire-Hathaway, headed by Warren Buffett, issued two-year corporate bonds for less than the rate for two-year U.S. Treasury bonds. This is the market saying that a company with an octogenarian CEO is a better credit risk than the United States government.
How long would you last if you had to borrow forty cents to pay for an item from the Dollar Value Menu at McDonald’s? How long could you go if you had to borrow $130 every month in order to make your $325 car payment? If someone did loan you the $130 this month, to whom would you go next month?
If you did find a string of people to loan you the money for your car payments month after month, how would they react if you showed up in a brand new car, having never repaid the money you borrowed for the previous car?
That’s where we are with ObamaCare. It doesn’t matter whether it’s good or bad just as it wouldn’t matter if the new car was better than the old car.
What matters is that money for ObamaCare will have to be borrowed while we’re already borrowing to pay interest on the money we’ve already borrowed.
So spare me the arguments pro or con on ObamaCare. None of them matter.
With or without ObamaCare, but especially with it, we’re on a path to financial ruin. And the point of no return is at hand.
That’s what matters.