|The D.C. Spending Party Never Ends|
By Michael Graham
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
To paraphrase those General Services Administration party animals during their $823,000 bash in Las Vegas: “What happens in Obama- care stays in Obamacare.”
The White House spent much of last week attacking a Washington Post article that laid out why the so-called “Affordable Care Act” is — contrary to the president’s promises — going to add billions to our debt. There was much back and forth about “double counting Medicare savings” and “accepted accounting practices,” blah, blah, blah.
Unfortunately I couldn’t hear most of this debate because it was drowned out by laughter over the GSA and Secret Service scandals. Vegas clown shows and Car- tageña hookers? That’s news!
In fact, they’re all part of the same story, a story I would headline: “What Did You Expect? You Asked The Government To Do It.”
Outraged by $4 shrimp, $19 “artisanal cheese” service, $50-per-person breakfasts and $75,000 “team-building” bicycle games? Who isn’t?
Uh .?.?. the GSA, that’s who. And that’s the problem.
The job of the GSA, the government’s landlord, is to prevent ridiculous spending. They, in turn, spent millions holding parties to celebrate the great job they thought they were doing.
“I want this conference to really make a statement,” GSA regional boss Jeffrey Neely reportedly said. And he got it.
But if you think “the statement” is, “These specific GSA employees are bad,” you’ve missed the point: This is how most people spend money?.?.?. when they’re spending other people’s money.
As Neely himself emailed:
“We typically host a nice happy hour in my suite one night?.?.?.?I know. I am bad. But as [his wife] deb and I say often, why not enjoy it while we have it and while we can. Aint going to last forever.”
Neely was right: No $179K government gig that includes taxpayer-funded hot tubs and expensive electronic gifts for the kids can last forever. And Neely’s reaction — “get it while the gettin’s good” — is a completely normal human reaction.
The Founding Fathers understood this (though what they would have made of $7,000 in sushi, I have no idea). That’s why they made government small, gave it as little as possible to do, and divided it so one branch could keep an eye on the other.
Which brings us back to Obamacare, and what it will really cost. In Massachusetts, the Romneycare version is already hundreds of millions over original projections, while also giving us the highest per-person medical costs and driving up insurance premiums.
At the national level, a study predicts $1.1 trillion in new federal spending and $340 billion added to the deficit over 10 years. The White House disagrees.
But this partisan debate is a misdirected joke because it leaves out the Neely factor. Once you put control of the health care system into the hands of hundreds of GSA-wannabes and government YouTube rap stars, costs are going to explode.
Who doesn’t know this? Surely all the people advocating for Obamacare have to be aware of this unchangeable truth. So how can they argue with a straight face that the same people who run the GSA, the Pentagon and/or the EBT system are going to cut our costs and save us money?
Once Obamacare is fully enacted, there will be a Jeffrey Neely in charge of your family’s health care and its costs. It could even be the same Neely. Do you know what happened a few months ago when this GSA spending spree came to light?
Neely got a $9,000 bonus.
Like they say in Vegas: “Jackpot!”
Michael Graham hosts an afternoon drive time talk show on 96.9 WTKK.