Boehner To CBO: La La La, I Can't Hear You


I know some of the Democrats are a little wacky, but this? These Republicans are just plain nuts. I'd forgotten what it was like to have the inmates in charge of the asylum. Their ability to communicate such deep denial seems to have paid off for them politically, at least for a while:

Rescinding the federal law to overhaul the health care system, the first objective of House Republicans who ascended to power this week, would ratchet up the federal deficit by about $230 billion over the next decade and leave 32 million more Americans uninsured, according to congressional budget analysts. The rough estimate by the Congressional Budget Office also predicts that most Americans would pay more for private health insurance if the law were repealed. The 10-page forecast was delivered to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), installed a day earlier to shepherd the new GOP majority. He immediately dismissed it.

The CBO's assessment, arriving as Republicans have mobilized to make the law's repeal the first major House vote of the new Congress, touches on a sensitive area for the GOP. Republicans are vowing to take tough measures to reduce the deficit, although they already have exempted the health care measure from rules requiring that any spending increases be accompanied by offsetting reductions so that the net effect on the deficit is null.

The CBO's analysis provided an early glimpse of the brute force politics spreading across Capitol Hill and beyond in the new era of divided government. The broad changes to the health care system, pushed through Congress by Democrats who controlled both the House and the Senate until this week, are among President Obama's proudest domestic accomplishments - and now a central target of the GOP. On Thursday, congressional Democrats and their allies seized the budget analysts' prediction as ammunition. "It's plain and simple: We can't afford to increase the deficit by nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars, especially with the very first substantive vote of the 112th Congress," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Montana).

With equal speed, Boehner and other House Republicans repudiated the forecast of the non-partisan CBO, saying that its analysts had relied on flawed assumptions they had been provided by Democrats. "CBO is entitled to their opinion," Boehner declared at his first news conference as speaker.

Specifically, the CBO, in what it called a preliminary analysis, said that the law's repeal would cost $145 billion by 2019 and $230 billion by 2021, then swell after that, because various money-saving and revenue-raising provisions would be undone. The 32 million uninsured Americans refers to the number predicted to gain coverage under the law.


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