Did the Obama Campaign Publicly Mislead on the Costs of Obamacare?

One more interesting nugget related to Ryan Lizza’s New Yorker piece.  This afternoon the author publicly posted the 57-page memo that the presidential transition team gave to President-elect Obama in December 2008 outlining economic and fiscal options for the incoming Administration.  Table 4 (page 28) of the memo includes a list of campaign promises, and their estimated cost in 2014.  The table shows the estimated cost of Obamacare’s subsidies at $190 billion in 2014 alone.  Below the table, a note on the next page explains “the health plan is about $10 billion more costly than the campaign estimated, and the savings are about $25 billion lower than the campaign estimated.”

So according to the memo from the Administration’s own advisors, even as the Obama presidential campaign publicly claimed its proposals would cost “50-65 billion a year when fully phased in,” the Obama campaign privately estimated the cost at $180 billion in 2014 – more than three times the public number.  It is therefore quite reasonable to ask 1) whether the Obama campaign purposefully misled the public about what they knew to be the true costs of a comprehensive health bill along the lines Obama envisioned; 2) what any attempt to hide the bill’s true costs from the public suggests about its popular appeal; and 3) how hiding important facts from the public represents “change we can believe in.”