Unlike with other major legislation, CBO’s scoring of the health laws blended spending increases and tax cuts into a single measure of deficit effects. The final scoring showed that these two bills combined would reduce the budget deficit over the next ten years. [emphasis original]
Some analysts dispute this scoring. That’s not my point. In addition to providing the deficit effects, CBO should have told lawmakers what the separate effects would be on spending and on taxes. To make a well-informed decision, policymakers need to know the gross effects and not just the net.
Only now does CBO tell us in a parenthetical:
“Taking into account all of the provisions related to health care and revenues, the two pieces of legislation were estimated to increase mandatory outlays by $401 billion and raise revenues by $525 billion.”
This is a very different picture. Imagine two scenarios of a lawmaker who was on the fence last March. He or she is a Blue Dog Democrat, or a Democrat from a fiscally conservative red district, and is deeply concerned that the legislation may be fiscally responsible. He is presented with two different statements from CBO:
1. “CBO says these bills will reduce the budget deficit by $124 billion over the next decade.”
2. “CBO says these bills will increase federal entitlement spending by $401 billion over the next decade, and will increase taxes by $525 billion over that same time period, for a net deficit reduction of $124 billion.”
These are very different statements. Both are true. CBO said only the first when Members were looking to understand the fiscal impacts of this legislation. This failure by CBO is important both because they failed to fully inform legislators and because that lack of information may have affected how some Members voted.
So, the feds are going to spend $401 billion more thanks to ObamaCare; so much for “bending the cost curve downward,” huh?
And our taxes are going up by more than half a trillion dollars to pay for it.
The only question left is exactly how much pressure Nancy Pelosi & Co. exerted on the CBO to make sure those numbers weren’t broken down before the final vote.