The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


The Rundown

CBO Score Gives Reform a Boost

By Ben Pershing
Wednesday brought a reminder that wonks bearing calculators can be hugely important to the direction of the country, as the Congressional Budget Office's determination that the Senate Finance Committee health bill would cost $829 billion served to give the entire reform effort a shot of adrenaline.

The CBO score means the Finance measure "has emerged as the only one of five bills by various panels that achieves every important goal [President] Obama has set for his top domestic initiative," the Washington Post writes. USA Today leads with a different number: The bill would cover 94 percent of Americans. "After appearing in peril in August, the health-care overhaul has cleared a series of hurdles in recent weeks that have given Democrats increased confidence they will pass a bill," the Wall Street Journal reports. "Lobbyists on both sides of the issue have shifted their focus to what the bill will look like rather than questioning whether a measure can succeed." Ezra Klein observes that, for better or worse, the Finance bill creates a new health-care system that "will look a lot like our old health-care system. Unless you're uninsured, or on the individual market, this bill is not expected to affect you."

Plenty of hurdles to reform remain. Figuring out how to pay for the package has proven to be at least as controversial as the substance of the package itself. The two leading pay-fors -- taxing the rich or taxing "Cadillac" health plans -- both have large blocs of opponents among Democrats, not to mention Republicans. The House is currently preoccupied with those debates, as many members of the majority have made clear they won't accept the latter proposal. And as the cost of the House bill remains unclear, Roll Call writes that moderates "are feeling a new sense of urgency to try to stop Pelosi from bringing a bill to the floor that fails to rein in health care spending and bloats the deficit." And, Time reports, some liberals worry that the reform measure will leave too many decisions up to the states and create an unequal and inconsistent system of coverage across the country. The left is also concerned that even in the House bill, the public insurance option may be watered down.

Continue reading at Political Browser »

Posted at 8:28 AM ET on Oct 8, 2009  | Category:  The Rundown
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Republicans: Spending more money won’t reduce the deficit!

Uh, I guess you guys aren’t very good at math. The bill does spend more money to cover the uninsured, but it also cuts a lot of spending in Medicare (a program Republicans hated before but now defend its uncontrolled spending simply because Obama wants to limit it) and provides disincentives for luxury health plans by taxing them (a McCain proposal that Obama reluctantly backed). Those control spiraling costs. Covering the uninsured means they don’t constantly utilize the most expensive form of care, the emergency room, and that also brings down overall health care costs.

Republicans: The CBO is lying, biased, bought out!

That’s not what you were saying when the numbers hurt the Democratic health care plan. The CBO numbers were held up as prime evidence against it. But I see, facts only apply when they are good for Republicans. See, Republicans can never be in the wrong, except, oh yeah, 2001-2008. By the way, if Obama could control the CBO, don’t you think he’d get good numbers all the time instead of just this once?

Republicans: The CBO said something completely different months ago!

Yeah, about a different bill. The Democrats in this committee saw what wasn’t working according to the CBO and they made adjustments. Yes, lo and behold, a philosophy that isn’t “Stay the course!” regardless of the dictates of reality.

Republicans: Dems are trying to kill old people!

Yeah, because Dems purposely want to hurt the biggest voting demographic and lose elections. Right. Oh, I see, the GOP wants to scare them into voting Republican, hence all the death panel, euthanasia, and kill-grandma lies.

Republicans: But the bill still leaves millions uninsured despite what Obama promised!

A third of those are illegal aliens, whom Republicans disdain and very much want to keep uninsured. Since when did Republicans want universal coverage anyway?

Republicans: The public overwhelming does not want the public option!

Wrong. 65% want it. Even more Republicans want it than don’t want it:

This CBO report demonstrates that far right extremists go into sudden denial over everything that goes against their ideology. They obstruct the Democrats even when what they’re doing is good for the country, and engage in outright lying, straw arguments, and scare tactics (e.g., Obama is a racist Muslim socialist non-citizen out to turn us into the Soviet Union and kill the elderly). It’d be funny if it weren’t so tragic, especially following 8 years of their support for Republicans who ran this country into the ground. Where was the great Republican health care bill then? Where was the decrying of record deficit spending? All I see is rank hypocrisy now.

Posted by: zvelf | October 8, 2009 1:15 PM

"And we are supposed to believe this assessment? We are supposed to believe the report isn't rigged?"
Well, since it came from the same agency that trashed the HCR plan back in June I'd say that the CBO IS a non-partisan group

Posted by: JRM2 | October 8, 2009 1:13 PM

No matter what form the bill ultimately takes (especially if it's one that makes fiscal sense and increases the number covered), the GOP will oppose it. The better the final bill appears, the more imperative that they kill it.

If any such bill passes, the President will get the credit, and the GOP has to prevent that at all costs. It would sink them in 2010 and 2012, and who knows how long after that.

Posted by: bpai_99 | October 8, 2009 12:42 PM

OK folks, now just add the obviously required public option which will undoubtedly prove worthy of its administrative cost and you may have something. Then the people of the country will finally benefit from the ridiculous machinations they have witnessed for months. The insurance companies, banks and their lobby machines are proof positive that unfettered capitalism is inane.

Posted by: hercster44 | October 8, 2009 11:49 AM

I am awaiting the final product produced behind closed doors by Obama, Reid and Pelosi before making a decision.

I wish that the wheeling and dealing that leads to the final product be broadcast on C-Span like Obama promised during the campaign but that appears never to happen.

I do hope that the media and the public have 72 hours to review the final product, so we can identify the earmarks, special breaks, etc that lobbyists have inserted into this legislation.

I also hope that the CBO is allowed to score the final product prior to Congress voting on same.

This would be the transparency that we were promised last year!

Posted by: mwhoke | October 8, 2009 10:04 AM

I just heard a radio show in which the person being interviewed criticized this CBO report, because the cost estimate is spread out over a 10-year period, but the actual healthcare program is over only 7 years. There would be 3 years of increased taxes to pay for a healthcare program that is not yet operative. And, for every decade after the first 10 years--when there is no longer a 3-year front-end collection to pay for the program--the program would run a massive deficit.

I sure would like to hear some analysis about whether these facts are correct.

Posted by: Dexhawk | October 8, 2009 9:22 AM

Just as the President promised and the president has fulfilled most of the promises he made on the campaign trail. The President promised that the Health Care reform bill would not raise the deficit and the CBO has just validated that claim. All the noisy hate and fear filled noise that the minority Republicans made at the staged town halls and such were ineffective and just proved even more how people do not respond to the antics of right wing nuts lunatics. American will indeed finally get a good health reform bill. The Republicans can whine, cry, spew hate, align themselves with fat Rush Limbaugh or the mental health challeneged Beck. America is having none of it. Go away. Go sleep with your guns.

Posted by: vintel7 | October 8, 2009 9:04 AM

And we are supposed to believe this assessment? We are supposed to believe the report isn't rigged? They think we have extremely short memories. But I remember, back in July, when the CBO negatively scored the House health care reform bill, and CBO head Doug Elmendorf was summoned to the White House for a spanking. So this time out -- surprise -- everything is peachy. Here is a WSJ story to refresh everyone's memory:

Posted by: LaLydia | October 8, 2009 8:52 AM

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