• No good will come of this – UPDATED

    UPDATE: Please read this post.  I think I made a mistake.  I leave this up, however, so that no one will think I’m whitewashing things and so that you might learn as I did.

    I’ve already said my piece about the silliness of rushing this vote (that will go nowhere) as it pretty much invalidates all the many, many procedural complaints those who opposed health care reform had in the last year. But that doesn’t mean that the press might not call them out on it. Rep. Cantor had this happen today:

    In his first weekly news conference as the incoming House majority leader, Representative Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia, accused the nonpartisanCongressional Budget Office of misrepresenting the cost of the recently enacted health care law at the behest of the outgoing Democratic majority in Congress.

    House Republicans have already put forward legislation to repeal the health care law and say they will force a vote on it as their first major action in the House majority.

    But Mr. Cantor crossed beyond the Republicans longstanding criticism of the health care law in his indictment of the Congressional Budget Office, which is the nonpartisan score-keeper and enforcer of budget rules regardless of which party is own power.

    The budget office projections showed the health care law reducing the federal deficit by about $140 billion over 10 years. And Mr. Cantor was pressed about how Republicans would offset the cost of repealing the law.

    This isn’t OK. I recognize that Rep. Cantor can’t possibly have a good answer for the budget offset; I would imagine he’d be expecting the question, though, and be ready for it. He had to know it was coming.

    The CBO is the non-partisan budget group that does its job, no matter who is running things. In fact, Rep. Cantor will likely need them to score laws that he and his party will want to pass in the next year. He will need them to make the argument that bills they want passed will lower the deficit or reduce spending.

    To say that the CBO is “misrepresenting” the facts or “using gimmicks” is not only misleading, it’s dangerous. It will lessen their credibility when we desperately need it. Not only that, but they worked their asses off last year, and they don’t reap the rewards that others in the political spectrum do.

    I’m sorry, but attacking thme because he didn’t have a good answer for the question is beneath him. He’s demeaning them for partisan gain. Someone needs to stand up for the CBO. I don’t like to call for apologies, but Rep. Cantor has some thinking to do.

    • One can argue that PPACA is deficit neutral. It requires believing some assumptions that reasonable people may disagree with, but there is at least a somewhat plausible argument.

      But to argue that it reduces the deficit by $100B+ requires an astonishing level of either ignorance or intellectual dishonesty. The entirety of that “savings” is made up of two things: premiums from the CLASS Act and additional SS revenues that result from employers shifting money from benefits to salary. But both of those things create an equivalent future deficit, neither of them can in any way be construed as saving the gov’t money or improving our fiscal position. This is not because I am disagreeing with their assumptions, the CLASS Act is designed to have actuarially equivalent premiums and benefits, though in the very early years the premiums received are higher.

      The only reason one could possibly even try to make this claim is because those outlays happen beyond 10 years. That threshold is entirely arbitrary, and it was gamed to create the appearance of deficit reduction. The CBO does great work, but it is very troubling that they did not point out the utter absurdity of claiming that the CLASS Act reduces the deficit. It is clearly false and does not stand up to the most cursory level of scrutiny.

    • To clarify and relate this to the main point, the question Cantor was asked is flawed: there is no “cost” of repealing the law, unless one believes that selling long-term care insurance where the premiums and benefits paid are equal somehow improves the budget. One is free to believe this of course, but there is this thing called arithmetic you’d need to overcome.

      All of this repeal rhetoric from the Republicans is just pointless political theater, the law is not going away. But it would be better for the press to point out that political reality rather than make the ludicrous and easily refuted claim that repealing the law is detrimental to the deficit.