Boehner challenges new CBO estimate that repealing Obamacare will raise deficit 

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  The CBO's reasoning is basically this: If Obamacare is repealed, the government will not collect X in taxes, as provided for in the national health care law, and it will not cut Y in Medicare spending, as the law instructs,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.

About The Author

Byron York


Byron York is the Examiner’s chief political correspondent. His column appears Tuesdays and Fridays. He blogs throughout the week at Beltway Confidential.

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