THE STUPID PARTY: GOP does damage control over healthcare score.
During the run-up to ObamaCare’s passage seven years ago, Congressional Democrats used all sorts of trickery to game the CBO score. Peter Suderman wrote in December, 2009:
After the August recess, scores for the various reform proposals improved markedly. Not only were they cheaper, requiring less total spending, they were judged by the CBO to result in net reductions to the deficit. What happened?
In large part, the answer is that Democrats became more skilled at manipulating the CBO’s scoring process. Indeed, they have become so skilled at getting what they want out of the CBO that the office has taken to including strongly worded warnings that the various bills’ real costs may not actually match their estimates.
In the House, Democrats shifted an expensive, unpaid-for “fix” to doctor’s Medicare reimbursement rates over to a separate bill. And in the Senate, they backloaded the spending so that its full effects would not be felt in the 10-year window that CBO scores. In the latest Senate bill, 99 percent of the spending would occur in the last six years of the budget window.
Nor do the scores count the cost of state level Medicaid expansions—$25 billion in the Senate’s bill—or of the private sector mandates it imposes, which, according to Michael Cannon, a health policy analyst at the Cato Institute, could add an additional $1.5 trillion to the total.
The bigger issue is that in budgeting, there are multiple realities available: The various scores put forth by the CBO are based on what might be called “legislative reality” — a fictional world in which there are no changes to current law except the bill under consideration, and new legislation is executed to the letter.
Everybody in Washington knew the numbers were no good, but they were good enough to provide the political cover needed to ram through the legislation. The press, for the most part, played along.
Today, Congressional Republicans seem to have not proactively gamed the CBO, and now are stuck in reaction mode, playing defense against the media and their own budget office.
It’s almost as though they don’t want to have to pass this bill.