Reconciliation, Deem-and-Pass, the CBO, and Obamacare Smackdown

There’s just so much juicy stuff on Obamacare out there, I don’t know where to begin.

Let’s start by looking at that CBO report on Obamacare, and what Obamacare will actually cost. Kevin Glass at Townhall brings up some of the budgetary manipulations that were used in the CBO report to make Obamacare look better than it is:

I noted before the massive amounts of qualifiers that the Congressional Budget Office has attached to its scores of the health care bill at every stage of its evolution. This latest bill, however, rivals the greatest magic tricks that J.K. Rowling could come up with.

1. Double-counting Medicare cuts as both saving Medicare and spending on new programs

2. Counting revenue that must be used for future spending as deficit-reducing savings

3. Starting revenue provisions immediately while delaying spending provisions until 2014

4. Carefully writing the language so that the CBO can’t count the individual mandate in the cost of the bill (which they had done in the past)

5. Claiming that additional tax money raised will go to pay for spending in the bill when it must be used for other programs

Phillip Klein at the American Spectator also looks at the CBO gimmicks, and points out that part of the trick the Democrats are using is to implement the bulk of the spending past the end of the CBO’s 10-year window:

An initial reading of the report suggests that Democrats employed similar accounting gimmicks as in previous iterations of the health care bill, while making up a shortfall with more cuts to Medicare Advantage, siphoning money from the Student loan bill, and raising taxes further. While I’ll go into further detail later once I’ve had a chance to look at all of the moving parts, and analyze the actual bill itself, one thing worth highlighting is that as expected, Democrats have maintained the strategy of delaying the major spending provisions until 2014 to create the appearance that the bill is cheaper over the CBO’s ten year budget window, from 2010 through 2019. In this version, the bill spends $17 billion in the first four years, while the remaining $923 billion, or 98 percent, is spent in the next six years. I’ve illustrated this tactic in the chart below. One thing to note is that the oft-quoted $940 billion number only pertains to the cost of expanding coverage — which is the bulk of spending in the bill — but it does not include all other costs, such as the providing more Medicare prescription drug subsides, which costs about $38 billion. I’ve used the $940 billion figure in the chart below, but have specified that it’s only the cost of the coverage provisions.

The Left Coast Rebel points to a Weekly Standard report that the full cost of Obamacare will approach 2 trillion dollars. Legal Insurection also mentions the Weekly Standard article, and questions the credibility of the CBO.

The CBO is supposed to be a neutral calculator of legislation. And it is. I have no doubt that the people at the CBO do their best to calculate the cost of a bill, given the assumptions the CBO is required to follow.

And that is the catch. Whereas on less politicized legislation there may be reasonable assumptions built into a bill and requested by those seeking a cost estimate, as to the health care bills proposed by Democrats it has been all games.

Completely unrealistice assumptions have been foisted upon the CBO, and the CBO has been required to score the bill with phony math.

Jeffrey Anderson at The Weekly Standard has a devastating take-down of the CBO report on the cost of the latest Democratic incarnation of the health care bill, CBO: Obamacare Would Cost Over $2 Trillion:

For a variety of reasons, this tally doesn’t remotely reflect the bill’s real ten-year costs. First, it includes 2010 as the initial year. As most people are well aware, 2010 has now been underway for some time. Therefore, the CBO would normally count 2011 as the first year of its analysis, just as it counted 2010 as the first year when analyzing the initial House health bill in the middle of 2009. But under strict instructions from Democratic leaders, and over strong objections from Republicans, the CBO dutifully scored 2010 as the first year of the latest version of Obamacare. If the clock were started in 2011, the first full year that the bill could possibly be in effect, the CBO says that the bill’s ten-year costs would be $1.2 trillion.There is more, much more. Read the full article.

The CBO report amounts to a fraud perpetrated not by the CBO, but by the Democrats who forced the CBO to play these games.

Michelle Malkin also addresses the CBO report:

The CBO didn’t release its non-report report because it was finished. The agency released it because Democrats needed cover for their bogus transparency pledge to post the bill 72 hours before voting for it (which they still didn’t fulfill). The good news is that the number-crunchers say they may have a real, final, useful analysis done by Sunday. The bad news is that the House Democrats – moving forward with their “deem-and-pass” trickery to – are scheduled to ram this monstrosity through by Sunday.

Chris Moran at American Thinker also slams the CBO report, as does Sister Toldjah.

And while we’re mentioning cost, Brian O’Connell at the American Spectator points to a Washington Examiner column that estimates and additional 16,500 IRS employees will be needed to enforce Obamacare. Or maybe that was part of the jobs bill?

Obamacare will likely have other negative impacts on the economy. NewsBusters reports that economic guru Jim Cramer claims that Obamacare will topple the stock market. Economist Larry Kudlow also predicts that Obamacare will depress the economy further.

Steve Foley at the Minority Report presents a list of costs, figures, and others impacts that Obamacare will have. The Political Inquirer revisits the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Jillian Bandes at Townhall refers to a Wall Street Journal column that predicts years of political and legal battles over Obamacare, should it pass.

There is also some more general commentary on Obamacare. Brian Faughnan at Red State points out that due to the buy-offs and special deals in Obamacare, Florida seniors will actually lose out on their benefits. Robin of Berkeley at American Thinker presents as narrative of how Obamacare indicates a lack of respect and caring for the indigent and elderly by pawning them off on he government.  And Philip Klein at the American Spectator makes predictions on how Obamacare will fail:

To start with, Americans would still be facing skyrocketing premiums. There’s been a lot of debate over the Congressional Budget Office report on this matter, with Republicans emphasizing that premiums would be higher in the individual market, and Democrats touting the finding that in the employer-based market, they could be slightly lower. But the important thing to keep in mind is that these estimates are all relative to what people would otherwise be paying if we simply did nothing. So even if you look at the employer-based market, according to the CBO, a family policy would cost roughly $20,100 for the average employee in 2016 under the Senate bill, rather than $20,300 under the status quo. Good luck to any Democrat who attempts to tell those families and businesses struggling to pay $20,100 for insurance coverage that if it weren’t for Obamacare, they’d be paying $200 extra.

While Obama claims that we need to pass his bill to avert spiraling health care costs, the Chief Actuary for the Centers for Medicare Services, which is responsible for tracking this, estimated that if the Senate health care bill passed, spending would actually rise to 20.9 percent of GDP, compared to 20.8 percent under the status quo Obama has rightly deemed “unsustainable.” In other words, a decade from now, Americans would still be reading stories on the devastating effects of health care spending on our economy – a problem that Obamacare was supposed to cure.

<snip>

While it’s true that Social Security and Medicare have remained popular even as the programs threaten to bankrupt the country, they are different from Obamacare because at least conceptually, everybody pays into them and everybody receives benefits. Yet Obamacare would be a welfare program in which one segment of the country receives benefits, while others have their coverage disrupted, and are punished with higher taxes, longer wait times, and poorer quality of care.

There’s a lot of stuff going on with this bill, and the Democrats in congress still seem eager to force it upon the American people. All that seems left is to sit and wait.

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  1. The Republican Heretic
  2. Alleged Democrat Memo Advises to Avoid Discussing CBO Scores « The Republican Heretic
  3. Obamacare, Slaughter, and Stupak « The Republican Heretic
  4. The Obamacare Abomination: Pricetag « The Republican Heretic

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