Recent editorials in the newspaper and several letters to the editor have hailed the recent Supreme Court decision affirming the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) as a major victory for the country.

Whatever one may think of the purported policy benefits, one benefit supporters consistently reference is economic. As evidence, they will point out that over 10 years the expected savings to be realized under this legislation at full implementation is $500 billion.

This number comes from the Congressional Budget Office, the non-partisan agency responsible for producing many key financial analyses for the federal government.

We would be wise to keep in mind two facts about this savings estimate:

* It is a prediction, not an actual occurrence.

* Non-partisan is not synonymous with accurate.

It is this latter point that is particularly troubling for those of us who tend to be skeptical of supposed financial windfalls to come from the government.

To take but one example, one thing the CBO produces is a multi-year estimate of the annual budget deficit. In 2009, the CBO predicted that the deficit for the current fiscal year would be $264 billion.

A year later, it revised the deficit estimate for 2012 to $650 billion. Last year, the estimate was revised again to $1.1 trillion.

In fact, with but a few months left in the current fiscal year, the federal deficit likely will exceed $1.3 trillion. To put it another way, the CBO’s three-year estimate was off by almost 400 percent or $1.1 trillion.

Even with only one year to estimate it still was overly optimistic by some $200 billion.

This represents but one example. Why should we have any faith that the CBO’s 10-year forecast for Obamacare will be any more accurate?

Scott Jones


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