Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

San Francisco-style budgeting

Jerry Stratton, December 16, 2009

San Francisco is emblematic of California as a whole. We don’t want to vote no and tell organizations that they don’t get any more money.

This aspect of San Francisco-style budgeting, from The Worst-Run Big City in the U.S. sounds awfully familiar to me:

Politicians approve [fiscally-ruinous labor contracts], despite needing to balance the budget every year, because the budget impact of proposed contracts is examined by the Board of Supervisors only for the following year, no matter how long contracts run. According to former city controller Ed Harrington, it has become common practice not to schedule any raises for the first year of a contract, but to provide extensive raises in later years.

The result is a contract that looks affordable one year out, then blows up in the city’s face.

That’s the model congress is using for the health care takeover:

It is true that the CBO officially scored the bill as costing $848 billion. But much of the spending is back-loaded. The bill doesn’t start spending until 2014, and only costs $9 billion that year. By 2019, the annual cost hits $196 billion. The minority staff of the Senate Budget Committee reports the cost is closer to $2.5 trillion over 10 years once all budget gimmicks are factored out. If you include costs shifted to individuals, businesses and state governments, the price tag could top $6 trillion.

Even the tiny deficit reduction it might generate requires that a future congress cut Medicare. That isn’t going to happen. If this congress isn’t willing to cut Medicare as part of the huge health care takeover, no future congress is going to be willing to cut Medicare as a standalone bill.

They’ve deliberately pushed the costs of the plan outside of the auditor’s legal window. So that the whole country can be as broke as the “worst-run big city” in its most fiscally-challenged state.

  1. <- Coal in their stockings
  2. Write about not writing ->