John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


The Health Care Law Sucks

Posted on June 2, 2010

Obama Signing the Health Care Bill / Photo Credit: Keith Ellison

As the Obama Administration grapples with a host of crises, from the Gulf Oil spill, to the potential war on the Korean Peninsula between North and South, to another potential war in the Middle East between Turkey and Israel, to the credit crisis in Europe, to the crisis on our Southern border, it will also have to deal with a crisis of its own making.

The health care law, the one the President signed into law, sucks.  There is no other way to describe it.  It sucks for those who are trying to find a job, it sucks for those who will have to pay more in premiums, it sucks for our deficit problems, it sucks for American competitiveness, it is sucks for doctors, for patients, for, well, everybody, except maybe those who want the whole system to collapse so that we can impose government run health care in its place.

That is the conclusion of a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and the conclusion of the current occupant of that office, although, of course, they would never put it those terms.

Economists never talk in language that is easily understandable.  That is why people like me exist, so that I can translate their conclusions in way that we all can understand.

Doug Holtz-Eakin, the former CBO director, and his very able colleague Cameron T. Smith, put out a devastating primer on the suckiness of the new health care law last week.  Called “Labor Markets and Health Care Reform:  New Results,” the academic study, put out by the center right think tank The American Action Forum, made one basic conclusion:  This new law sucks for jobs.

Here is the executive summary from that report:

“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPAC) will have profound implications for U.S. labor markets. The PPAC is fiscally dangerous, raising the risk of higher labor (and other) taxes at a time when the job market is struggling. It provides strong incentives for employers – with the agreement of their employees – to drop employer-sponsored health insurance for as many as 35 million Americans, perhaps leading to widespread turmoil in labor compensation and employee insurance coverage – and raising the gross taxpayer cost of the subsidies to roughly $1.4 trillion in the first 10 years. Finally, the bill exacerbates the already-high effective marginal tax rates on low-income workers. Every worker forced onto the subsidized exchanges will face higher barriers to upward mobility and the pursuit of the American Dream,” (

His successor at CBO, Doug Elmendorf (a Democrat, I might add), reached a similar conclusion about the long-term impact of this legislation on our nation’s fiscal health.  He said in his blog (basically) that the bill sucks at containing costs.

“The central challenge is straightforward and stark: The rising costs of health care will put tremendous pressure on the federal budget during the next few decades and beyond. In CBO’s judgment, the health legislation enacted earlier this year does not substantially diminish that pressure. In fact, CBO estimated that the health legislation will increase the federal budgetary commitment to health care (which CBO defines as the sum of net federal outlays for health programs and tax preferences for health care) by nearly $400 billion during the 2010-2019 period,” (

So, this new law sucks when it comes to job creation, which is the top priority for the American people.  It sucks when it comes to the debt and deficit, which is also very high on the list of top concerns.

The American people are pretty smart about this stuff.  They know this law sucks.  That is why so many want it repealed.  According to a Rasmussen poll, fully 60% remain firmly opposed to it and only 31% support it.

The people know that this law, well, sucks.  The experts know this law sucks.

The Obama Administration has a lot on its plate.  The Korean Civil War.  The Turkey-Israeli split.  The Gore divorce.  And the various crisis that it had nothing to do with, but is now getting blamed for.

But its biggest problem might be that it passed a law over the strenuous objections of most voters, which is now making all of the other problems that they have to deal with harder to deal with.  The health care law sucks, not only for the people, but also for the President and his people.