As President Obama's director of the Office of Management and Budget, Peter Orszag was one of the leading pitchmen selling the idea that ObamaCare would "bend the curve" and slow the rise in the health care costs. Now that he's out of the administration and the law has been passed, he's actually acknowledging that growth in health care costs is slowing as a result of market forces, technological innovation, and the economy.
"Much of the recent deceleration is probably attributable to the economy," Mr. Orszag, now vice chairman of global banking at Citigroup, writes in a Bloomberg View column. Also, health-care providers are "are increasingly using computer software to inform clinical decision-making and are 'benchmarking' physicians — that is, comparing their practice norms with those of other doctors — to move toward better care."
Now he tells us.
This is a big deal, and amazing.
Mr. Orszag's column doesn't credit ObamaCare for the slowing growth in health care costs. Nor does he recommend the law's repeal on the grounds that it was sold on a false premise — pass this law to achieve slower growth in health care costs (even though, we're not telling you, the growth may slow anyway even without passing the law).
Instead Mr. Orszag expresses contempt for the Republican alternative of allowing states to experiment with health-care reform. He says it would shift "risk" onto state governments and individuals. Yet why shouldn't state governments and individuals bear some risk instead of having all the risk piled in Washington? Mr. Orszag doesn't explain.
It's something to remember the next time some government official or politician comes along trying to sell some law or vast expansion of government power on the grounds that it's needed to solve some scary problem. Maybe the problem will get better without the expansion of government power. Yet once the government's power is expanded, it's hard to turn back, and there may well be unintended consequences.
Update: Orszag replies!