President Obama plans to hold a “bipartisan” health-care summit Thursday, and today the White House rolled out a new health proposal for the occasion. The administration says the compromise between the House and Senate bills will cost $950 billion over 10 years but will somehow reduce the deficit by $100 billion over that time and by $1 trillion in its second decade.
That’s right: a $1 trillion deficit reduction over 10 years, a 10-fold increase from the first 10 years.
Want to know what the scorers at the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office think? Too bad — the White House delivered its plan so late, and with so few specifics, that CBO says it won’t be able to evaluate the new scheme by Thursday.
Aw, shucks. What an unfortunate coincidence! And if you believe that, I’ve got a no-deductible, no-premium, no-co-pay insurance plan I’d like to sell you.
The White House cooked up this summit as a last chance to take back the political high ground from Republicans on health care, after months of negative public reaction to Democrats’ various proposals. The fact that the president wants Republican input only on ways to tweak his plan around the edges, nothing more, is sign enough that he merely seeks the appearance of having listened to the GOP before he proceeds to shove his plan down Congress’s, and Americans’, collective throats. A serious discussion could wait until the new plan has at least the CBO’s stamp of approval, much less reviews by other third parties.
But maybe this will backfire: If Republicans needed a reason not to get caught up in Thursday’s trap summit, they could find it in the futility of discussing a plan with nothing more rigorous than an Obama “trust me” behind it.