The Congressional Budget Office has just sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner saying that repealing Obamacare would "probably increase federal budget deficits over the 2012-2019 period by a total of roughly $145 billion." The CBO's reasoning is basically this: If Obamacare is repealed, the government will not collect X in taxes, as provided for in the national health care law, and it will not cut Y in Medicare spending, as the law instructs, but it will also not spend a little less than the total of X plus Y on expanded health coverage. Therefore, repeal would increase the deficit.
Republicans aren't buying it. I just asked Boehner spokesman Michael Steel for a statement on the CBO letter. "There is no one that believes the Washington Democrats' job-killing healthcare law will lower costs, because it won't," Steel responded. "That's why we pledged to repeal it, and replace it with common-sense reforms that will actually work. As Budget Chairman Paul Ryan has noted, the CBO score excludes the $115 billion needed to implement the law. It double-counts $521 billion in Social Security payroll taxes, CLASS Act premiums, and Medicare cuts. It strips a costly doc-fix provision that was included in initial score. It measures 10 years of revenues to offset 6 years of new spending. Even the Administration's own actuaries have said it won't reduce the deficit."
The CBO says its numbers are a quickie estimate, made public "because congressional deliberations on [repeal] could begin very soon." It promises a more detailed analysis in the days to come. But look for this to become the standard Democratic talking point in the debate over repeal.