Went back to listen to old "The Incidental Economist" podcasts this morning, and listening to this one about raising the Medicare eligibility age, (not a transcript but points summarized here and here) I realized just how ingenious the ACA was.

During the debate on ACA, many progressives tried to bolster the case for the public option by pointing to massive budgetary savings. Didn’t work. C’est le vie. There’s no law or rule saying Congress has to pass good ideas.

However, there is a law prohibiting Congress from impletementing deficit-exploding ideas. Which means that if you, say, wanted to raise the Medicare eligibility age, well, that used to just push the costs of the government’s books. A net loss to society but a win for deficit hawks who think most people’s social value is limited to being beads in their abaci.

But with ACA in place, those people get scooped up by the exchanges, which means the government is still spending money on them. And since they are old, they will drive up premiums for everybody. Which means that shrinking Medicare doesn’t reduce the deficit anymore.

I think a "bwa ha ha" is in order.