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Letter: Getting Facts Right

To the Editor:

Steve Daly writes about his concerns with the federal deficit

["Frightened by Runaway Government," Connection, Oct. 31-Nov.6, 2013]. Unfortunately, Mr. Daly reported inaccurate information, especially the financial implications of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. According to Mr. Daly, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office reported that ACA "will add $6.2 trillion to the long-term deficit, adding greatly to our jaw dropping $17 trillion dollar U.S. deficit." Mr. Daly’s statement is untrue. The $6.2 trillion dollar estimate is not in the GAO report (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Effect on Long-Term Federal Budget Outlook Largely Depends on Whether Cost Containment Sustained, GAO-13-281, Jan. 31, 2013) and GAO did not make such an estimate.

Mr. Daly’s estimate may have come from Republican congressional staff, who claim to have extrapolated such a number as the 75-year cost if GAO’s worst case scenario comes true. Their partisan analysis ignores GAO’s best case scenario, which if used would reduce the federal deficit by $13.25 trillion over the same period using the same

extrapolation methodology, according to PolitiFactVirginia (June 17, 2013). GAO also did not say which outcome is more probable. In fact, another nonpartisan office, the Congressional Budget Office estimates over the next decade, ACA will reduce the deficit by $100 billion. That’s because the ACA includes new spending cuts and tax increases, which more than offset the cost of expanding health insurance

to millions of Americans. Our elected leaders may disagree over the merits of particular policies or the size of government, but it is important that they and we use accurate information in our debates. And it is not a show of

greater patriotism, as suggested by Mr. Daly, to defiantly close the government or bring down the national economy to win a particular side of a debate. Our nation’s greatest success has always come by applying reason and by compromising to find common ground. I hope that is the

lesson taken by our national leaders and my fellow citizens from last month’s national debacle and from the results of the Nov. 5 Virginia state elections.

Rex Simmons

Fairfax Station