Politicians like big numbers. Big polling leads, big campaign contributions, big office staffs, big earmarks – big anything.
Partly due to budgetary forecasting and partly due to the juvenile “compare my legislative wad against yours” mentality, we have gotten used to big numbers that reflect the 10-year costs of things.
So when people hear $1.6 trillion for tax cuts, $1 trillion for healthcare, $787 billion for stimulus, $700 billion for bailouts, hundreds of billions of dollars on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and several hundred billion on Medicare Part D, many Americans are having a hard time contemplating the actual relative cost of these items.
They see the big number without the asterick of the time period involved.
So even though we spent $1.5 trillion in less than 2 years to save the economy, people are revolting against $1 trillion for healthcare even though that cost is spread out over 10 years and doesn’t even begin to come into play for a number of years. All because the big ticket numbers look similar and similarly astronomical.
But when you consider that we may spend $100 billion on healthcare reform in the next year (a rough estimate of average annual cost) when our entire federal budget is somewhere around or north of $3 trillion, it seems like a far smaller endeavor.
Hell, for just 3.3% of the annual federal budget, or less than 1/5 of the cost of the Pentagon’s annual budget, we can insure 30-40 million Americans.
When you think about it in those terms, healthcare reform isn’t nearly as expensive as people have been whining about.