Via Ezra Klein, here's economist Uwe Reinhardt on the cost of healthcare reform:
A price tag of $1.6 trillion seems immense if one contemplates the figure in the abstract. It is, however, only about 4 percent of the total cumulative health spending of $40 trillion, the amount government actuaries now project for the decade from 2010 to 2020. That is also less than the 6 to 7 percent that total national health spending has increased each year in the past decade.
Nevertheless, Max Baucus has decided to arbitrarily limit the price tag for the healthcare reform bill to $1 trillion over ten years. I can't recall who wrote this recently, so forgive the lack of attribution: In 2002, did any member of Congress randomly set a spending limit for the invasion and occupation of Iraq?