A new source of income to pay for big new programs will never, ever go to paying just for the program.

In cash-strapped Washington, President Obama’s $1 trillion health care law is presenting a tempting target for lawmakers seeking funds for other projects, as Congress last week raided the health care piggy bank for the third time in less than a year.

Congress last week axed a part of Democrats’ signature domestic achievement to find $11 billion to cover the cost of repealing a withholding tax that otherwise would have hit government contractors in 2013. Mr. Obama signed that bill into law on Monday.

The withholding bill follows two other efforts — one in December and another in April — that reworked the health care law to squeeze savings for other priorities. The December bill funded higher payments for doctors who treat Medicare patients, and the April legislation repealed a paperwork provision in the original health care law that businesses said would be onerous.

All told, Congress and the president have tapped some $50 billion earmarked to pay for benefits and programs in the health care overhaul in future years to fund more-immediate spending needs.

In order to game the cost estimates (which only look out 10 years in the future), the health care bill started colleting taxes for a few years first before benefits hit. But a pile of money sitting around doing nothing (presently) is something Congress just can’t stand to see. So, it’s more than just giving DC too much power is a bad idea, but giving them the money to exercise that power means that their influence will expand even beyond the program itself.

Not a good idea.

Filed under: EconomicsGovernmentMedicine

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