Diogenes, put down your lamp.

 The Wall Street Journal has found an honest man.

He is Richard Foster, Medicare’s chief actuary, who in a companion analysis to last week’s happy talk report on the state of Medicare by the trustees, presents what the Journal calls the “most damning fiscal indictment to date of the Affordable Care Act.”

The trustee report shows “how the Affordable Care Act is helping to reduce costs and make Medicare stronger,” the White House said in a statement.

One problem: That spin ignores the extraordinary companion analysis by chief Medicare actuary Richard Foster that repudiates this conclusion and is the most damning fiscal indictment to date of the Affordable Care Act.

Foster basically “disowns” the trustees’ report, noting that the law, as written, bears little relation to the real world. He shows that certain “cuts” exist only on paper and that, in reality, the only program where cuts are truly likely is with Medicare Advantage, an extremely popular program that has made life pleasanter for many senior citizens.  

The CBO, whose word carried so much clout during the debate over healthcare, can only make its projections based on what’s presented to it. In other words, the CBO had to pretend that the imaginary cuts were real. That is how it gave projections that gave wavering legislators a way to vote for a bill that would cost far more than was forecast.

Don’t you wish we’d had a Richard Foster at the CBO, somebody who could come out and just tell what is really going to happen?