The Alan Katz Health Care Reform Blog

Health Care Reform From One Person's Perspective

At Long Last the CBO Weighs in on Obama Health Care Reform Plan

Posted by Alan on March 18, 2010


The critical role the Congressional Budget Office plays in federal lawmaking cannot be overestimated. Both parties know their own economists generate numbers designed to bolster their bosses’ ideology. Meaning they lack much credibility. So Congress established the CBO to be a neutral arbiter of the financial impact of legislation. Both parties, whether in the majority or minority, rely on the integrity of the CBO.

This doesn’t mean they accept reports from the CBO blindly and completely. Especially if the results are at odds with a party’s political needs, there’s harping about the assumptions used and the like. But the fact that both parties cite the CBO’s analysis as fact so often means their analyses have immense credibility – enough credibility to settle disputes and sway votes.

So the CBO’s score (as their analyses are called) concerning health care reform has been long anticipated. President Barack Obama built his health care reform package on the chassis of the legislation passed by the Senate on December 24, 2009. But he wants substantial changes (as do House members before they’ll go along with it). President Obama submitted those changes to the CBO and everyone has been waiting to see what their financial impact would be. How important is the CBO analysis? So important Democratic leaders have withheld the actual text of the changes they want to make to the Senate’s health care reform legislation until they knew whether the CBO would score the bill as costing less than $1 trillion and would be, at worse, deficit neutral.

The wait is over. (Almost. The actual report will be issued later today and I’ll add a link to it from this post. In the meantime word of it’s findings have leaked out). Note: the Congressional Budget Office’s preliminary estimate of the direct spending and revenue effects of President Obama’s health care reform proposal is now available.

As reported by Ezra Klein of the Washington Post, the Congressional Budget Office has concluded the health care reform bill proposed by President Obama will cost $940 billion over the first 10 years, reducing the deficit by $130 billion during that time. The impact on the budget is even greater in the next decade: the CBO estimates it will reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion between 2020 and 2029.  The President’s proposal is also expected to result in near universal coverage with 95 percent of the eligible population having private or public health care coverage.

All the news outlets are reporting the same figures. While it will be critical to see the qualifiers and methodology used by the CBO to reach these conclusions (which will be available only when the actual report is published later today), Democrats are already celebrating the figures. One reason: as Fox News reports, the CBO analysis makes it far more likely the clean-up legislation necessary to amend the Senate health care reform bill will meet the requirements of the reconciliation process. This means the clean-up bill can side-step the filibuster process and pass with a 51 vote, simple majority in the Senate.

Next up in the health care reform roller coaster ride: the CBO report will be issued today and the House will vote on the Senate health care reform bill and the clean-up legislation on Sunday. Then the clean-up bill heads over to the Senate where Democratic leaders hope to hold a final vote before the end of March.

At least, that’s the plan. And very little concerning this health care reform effort has gone according to plan.

31 Responses to “At Long Last the CBO Weighs in on Obama Health Care Reform Plan”

  1. “Chris Dodd has requested $100 million to aid in the building of a state run hospital in his home state of Connecticut.” And been granted his request in this latest round of bribes.

    As I understand it (just finished a long drive for the past four days), Blanche Lincoln will still receive her bribe; Ben Nelson will still receive his bribe…

    I also understand that the FINAL CBO Scoring is NOT in, and if that is the case, then neither the House, Senate, or President Obama & Company really know the ultimate cost of this abomination, yet are insisting on a “Blind” Congressional Approval.

    The Christian Science Monitor just said this:

    “it can only judge what’s laid before it, and in a matter as complex and political as this, that necessarily limits its real forecasting ability.

    (For a Monitor blog on what could happen to the cost of insurance premiums, click here

    The office can’t factor in, for instance, political behavior. Right now, the legislation assumes Congress will go ahead and cut Medicare reimbursements to doctors by 21 percent the way it’s supposed to. But lawmakers keep putting off this cost-saving measure, and everyone knows it’s not going to happen.

    The CBO probably knows that, too, but it can’t account for a political probability. It has to work with what’s before it.

    Here’s another political calculation that must worry the CBO. Will a Congress of the future decide it’s too politically dangerous to tax “Cadillac” insurance plans when the time comes? The tax would raise revenue to help pay for the 32 million Americans expected to be covered under the revised plan.

    A lot of union households have these expensive insurance plans, and they don’t like the tax idea. Democrats already caved to union demands by putting off a vote on imposing the tax until 2018. Will lawmakers capitulate again eight years from now? They do just that with such unpopular taxes as the alternative minimum tax, making adjustments year by year without really fixing the problem.

    Yes, the CBO can only score what’s before it, including creative accounting. The healthcare plan starts raising revenue this year, but it won’t begin paying for most benefits until 2014. So the revenue side gets a four-year head start.”
    It occurs to me, simply reading the information offered for public viewing on sites that would be subject to being catigated were they wrong, and from the information I’ve read about Christopher Dodd’s bribe, along with the already known bribes that will be paid to Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson, the Unions, Big Pharma, and others we may not have as yet been informed of (bad grammar!), that should this HCR Proposal pass to the President’s desk for signature (which has been made abundantly clear that he will provide, whether or not the electorate approves…frankly, no one else’s opinion counts, does it, really?), it will pass by a very corrupt and “bought” Democratic Party and its minions.

    What a shame. I, personally, would hate to see this country go from one extreme to the other; from the Ds controlling everything, to the Rs controlling everything; yet if this is the means by which the Ds intend to pass this decidedly bad and unpopular, descriminatory HCR bill, that is precisely what will happen.

    And then what will all of you who applaud this poorly researched, poorly handled, poorly designed socialistic piece of legislative smelly garbage say? That the “Churchies” won out? Bullshit. That the extreme Radical Right won out? Bullshit.

    You will have singlehandedly (as a group of vacuaous thinking socialist believing Koolaide drinkers) forced what should have been a very positive step forward in American History into becoming a radical American political philosophy of gain by individual initiative into a philoosophy of “Let those who have succeeded pay for all those who have note”, and screw Individual Responsibility, and reward Social Welfare-ism.

    Explain that to your children and grandchildren folks, and tell them why they have no future in this country. Tell them how you wanted to promote the ” ‘Something for Nothing’ for Lunch Bunch”; in contradiction to everything you told them when they were growing up about the importance of striving to do the best they could while remembering the importance of helping those who cannot help themselves.

    Please, tell your progency how you are so proud that you helped to “grill their genertion over hot coals” in order to help your selfish selves.

    That’s the America you can hold in pride (You can…not I, nor any who feel as do I). I have a hard time abiding those who “cry in their beer”, those who look to others to carry their baggage, and those who are looking for a “free lunch”, as did Will Rogers. We the taxpayers (clearly, you are not), your children and grandchilren who may be the taxpayers (Hopefully, you also hope the same), and those in Society who cannot help themselves, do not appreciate your “Gimme a Free-ride” attitude. It, and the future of America, can’t afford your “woe is me” pleadings. Nor can the rest of the world. As said before, “Thus ends the American Era”.

    • Spencer, were you inebriated when you wrote this?

      A doctor friend told me his opinion tonight (and by the way, he is against the passage of reform)–“It doesn’t matter if it passes or not. The whole system is collapsing. Reform won’t save it. Kiboshing reform won’t save it. It’s a total mess and beyond repair.”

      By the way, your argument–at least to those of us who disagree with your assessment–would ring at least a tiny bit more authentic if it weren’t so liberally sprinkled with cookie cutter quotes from your puppet masters (I know, I know–you’re an INDEPENDENT who thinks entirely for himself). Abomination, Democrat bribe takers, Koolaid drinkers, socialism thing to me reads like a Mad Lib designed by Mitch McConnell which allows you to plug in approved catch phrase insults of your “choice” in an otherwise completely scripted diatribe.

      My favorite quote:

      Please, tell your progency how you are so proud that you helped to “grill their genertion over hot coals” in order to help your selfish selves.

      That’s rich. I will immediately go and tell my “progency” about how I have devoted my lazy self to grilling their “genertion” over hot coals.

      By the way, I suspect you did not intend the above typos. But just as you did not give my typing the benefit of the doubt when I wrote Any Rand, I must repay the favor.

      It is possible that due to lack of healthcare, there could be widespread damage to tomorrow’s children and the children of these children. Perhaps you intended to show some sort of genetic devolution and signified this by referring to the coming genertions of progency.

      Or, as I earlier suspected, you may have just been inebriated.

      In any event, tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner, my friend. Enjoy your Medicare–I, as a have not, expiate you for any guilt you may be feeling for simultaneously benefitng from, and castigating in fury, more of fruits of socialism my ilk are likely to ever see.

      • Thorton,

        You have become a whining, sorry excuse for a welfare evolving crybaby.

        You ridicule, belittle, demean, and attempt to humiliate any who have not agreed with you, or cast different perspectives.

        Suggesting that I was drunk when posting my comment is not only insulting , it is slanderous and libelous.

        You, sir, need a healthy dose of maturity. I wish you luck, though I doubt that you know it if it hit you in the face.

        I hope, though do not expect, that should you find that you wishes are fulfilled on Monday next, you have the common decency to not gloat.

        As I said, I do not expect to see any mature growth evidenced by you, so soon.

        Get help.

      • Rick said

        Jim Thornton said: “more fruits of socialism my ilk are likely to ever see”

        Jim, so you feel medicare will be drained dry and fail. Your supercilious attitude and poetic writing style exposed a lack of faith in what you promote.

  2. Nick said

    Why are democrats being told to avoid talking about the details of the CBO score?

    Explicitly. From a Thursday memo on the subject: http://www.redstate.com/moe_lane/files/2010/03/20100319100051579.pdf

    “We cannot emphasize enough: do not allow yourself (or your boss) to get into a discussion of the details of CBO scores and textual narrative. Instead, focus only on the deficit reductions and number of Americans covered.”

    Emphasis theirs, not mine. Also:

    “The inclusion of a full SGR [‘sustainable growth rate’ – ML] repeal would undermine reform’s budget neutrality. So, again, do not allow yourself (or your boss) to get into a discussion of the details of CBO scores and textual narrative. Instead, focus only on the deficit reductions and number of Americans covered.”

    “As most health staff knows, Leadership and the White House are working with the AMA to rally physicians support for a full SGR repeal later this spring. However, both health and communications staff should understand we do not want that policy discussion discussed at this time…”

    I’d ask what they were so afraid of, but I already know the answer – and so do you. A rush job is never good for anyone and this bill is going to wreak havoc on the healthcare of this nation and the envy of the world.

    • JimK said

      Re: Democratic Memo

      Faked Memo

      http://washingtonindependent.com/79802/gop-leaders-back-away-from-fishy-democratic-memo-on-health-care

      • Thanks, JimK.

        Because I don’t trust those who want to believe the accuracy of this “leaked memo” will actually look at your posted link, let my post an excerpt from two leading Republicans trying to distance themselves from yet another dirty trick:

        At a 3:30 press conference called “to highlight the concerns over the Democrats’ budget gimmick to temporarily exclude a $371 billion ‘Doc Fix’ from the health reform bill,” Reps. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) quickly dismissed the memo.

        “Look,” said Cantor, “the appropriate question there is, ask the reporter who wrote the article. I know nothing beyond what I read in Politico.” The “real hoax,” he said, was on “the American people.”

        Ryan was even quicker on the dismissal. “Who cares who wrote the memo?” he asked.

        Who cares? Who cares? I care. I’d bet a hundred bucks it was some Republican staffer or lobbyist hoping to muddy the waters and baffle the old fools who are soiling their Depends at the thought of illegal aliens getting abortions paid for by their death taxes…

  3. Joe Hart said

    Dear Alan,
    As I understand it, the CBO report relies on $500 billion dollars in Medicare cuts- primarily to advantage programs. That seems suspect to me. The last time Congress made drastic changes to Medicare requiring sacrifice from America’s largest voting block was in the 1990s with the Medicare Catastrophic Act. I’ve never seen a piece of legislation repealed so quickly! If the Medicare cuts go, we actually have a $370 billion dollar increase.

    • Joe,

      Now, YOU are paying attention!

      BTW, one of my favorite uncles was named “Joe Hart”, and that is exactly, both first and last name, what his wife, Berna, his children, and the rest of the family called him, “Joe Hart”!

      Good bonafides, you have!

  4. Steve said

    I’m a canadian watching this very closely. It’s actually mind boggling to see this unfold. To hear republicans say they will do everything in their power to stop a bill that is better than the current system now is just heart wrenching. You can do something, or do nothing. In Canadian politics, it doesn’t matter what political party you belong to (I’m a conservative), we all have a common ground when it comes to health care. Is our system perfect? No! No system is perfect. The one good thing about our system is nobody is left behind. If you’re sick, you go to the doctor, and don’t have to check your bank account first.

    I’ve seen propaganda on American TV about the Canadian health care system and cancer patients waiting months to start chemo…???? lol That is absolutely untrue! My father couldn’t breathe one night, we took him to emergency, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer within 3 days and started chemo in a week at Princess Margaret Hospital, the busiest cancer hospital in Toronto. Oh, and was put on a clinical trial drug. The cost to our personal finances? Nothing! Our taxes may be a bit higher, but from what I know speaking to friends down in the U.S., the average income is still higher up here in the great white north.

    It’s sad to watch the greed, the money hungry multi-billion dollar corporations, control something so important and disrupt the future of the American people.

    • Thanks, Steve.

      I am one of the few regularly posting comments in favor of reform, and I am stunned by the vitriol and outright self-delusion of some of my fellow posters.

      One has suggested that I move to Canada so I can benefit from “socialized medicine.”

      Obviously, it is a difficult thing to do–uproot your family, move away from the house you grew up in from 1952, leave your friends behind, and so forth.

      But even if I were able to do all this, I don’t think Canada just allows immigrants to move there, proclaim citizenship, and start reaping the benefits of your healthcare system.

      I know that many of my charitable friends on the opposite side of the political spectrum here in the US have strong feelings about foreigners setting up residence uninvited to OUR country. In fact, if it weren’t illegal, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of them joyfully organizing illegal alien “turkey shoots” on their Texas ranches and the like.

      But that’s neither here not there.

      If I were, by some miracle, to show up in Canada with my family of four, would you guys admit me to the fold? If not (and I can surely understand why not), are you guys at all starting to worry about new ranks of illegal aliens from your southern border sneaking across the Boundary Waters in the hopes of finding health care asylum?

  5. JimK said

    Supposedly, the proposed HCR legislation will provide insurance coverage for 94% of Americans. However, will it increase access? The NY Times printed an article on March 15, 2010. The author of the article cited the fact that due to continued cuts in Medicaid reimbursements fewer Healthcare Providers are willing to accept Medicaid.

    However, on a positive note, I had previously posted that I believe the passage of HCR would adversely affect hiring. This morning on “Morning Joe,” CNBC financial reporter Erin Burnett stated that polling indicates that 80% of “Wall Street” believes the Bill will pass and despite this belief, the market has continued to climb. I also believe she said that Wall Street endorses this Bill.

    I must admit I do not know if Wall Street is endorsing this Bill because they believe it will help American business, or if their motives are based on the belief that it will help their international holdings.

    Jim Kirk

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/16/health/policy/16medicaid.html

    • Rick said

      JimK, this ia a money printing secular bull market that began over one year ago. I don’t think HCR has much of anything to do about it.

  6. Hydrodave said

    Go ahead and pass the bill, we’ll just repeal it in 3 years.

  7. EvoRev said

    The numbers appear to soothe some who had questioned the bill previously. I have to admit, I’m not quite sure what to make of them. On one hand they do seem to project changes that could work in the long term.

    And I suppose that is where I get a bit nervous. The long term. It is my understanding that part of the funding to go toward the deficit or toward health care spending itself will come from substantive taxes that will kick in 8 years from now. While that sounds fine and dandy who’s to say that the congress that is in office at that time will even enact those taxes? I just can’t picture a lot of votes going toward new taxes on something they had nothing at all to do with. It just seems like another instance of paying for something with dollars that do not yet exist …and may well not exist going forward.

    Not to mention reports I am hearing about doctors threatening to leave the Medicare program if this bill is enacted. Where will the incentive come from to keep these doctors? Are we going to offer increases in pay? If so, that will have to be paid for as well.

    I worry about the unforeseen and yet inevitable issues that will arise. And again, I just can’t understand why there isn’t a greater effort to reign in fraud/waste and abuse. That alone could go a long way toward paying for reform.

    • I think part of the problem is that people have been decrying “fraud and waste” in all manner of government (not to mention free enterprise–Tyco’s Dennis Kowalski’s six-thousand-dollar shower curtain springs to mind) and nothing ever gets done about it. At least the reform proposes sending undercover operatives in to do sting operations. That might help–as did the whistleblower program where underlings who agreed to rat out fraudulent doctors and the like got to keep a portion of the recovered loot.

      The problem in pinning your hopes on vague, everybody-agrees, no brainer solutions like “eliminating fraud and waste” is that if there were easy to implement, they would have already been implemented.

      Don’t forget that when the police got radar guns, the speeders got Fuzz Busters. So the police got better radar guns, and the speeders got Fuzz Busters II.

      Fraudsters evolve because, as we have learned, greed is a powerful incentive that works its corrosive magic in every human endeavor, from the Halls of Congress, to the Corporate Office Suite, to the Vatican.

      But doing the right thing is an incentive, too, and it is why we may occasionally be robbed blind, but, with luck, we are rarely robbed dead.

      • EvoRev said

        When I turn on the television and see “mobile chairs” being portrayed as carnival giveaways (Come on everyone, don’t be the last on your block to get a HoverScooter!!! Can’t pay for it? No worries! Little or no cost to you!!!).

        That mentality…that is part of the fraud/waste and abuse I speak of. That sense of entitlement so many seem to have, regardless of true need or alternatives.

        And I’ll respectfully disagree in the assertion that eliminating fraud/waste and abuse is hard. The State of Tennessee had a program very similar to the federal Medicare program. Auditors found that payments were being made to individuals who clearly should never have qualified, individuals who weren’t even residents of TN (a requirement) and payments were even going to individuals who had deceased years before. 🙂

        A modicum of common sense and administrative oversight would have gone a long way toward curbing the f/w/a in the program and may well have kept the program solvent a lot longer than it did. Tennessee’s TennCare program is a textbook example of a good idea with poor implementation.

        “Fraudsters evolve because, as we have learned, greed is a powerful incentive that works its corrosive magic in every human endeavor, from the Halls of Congress, to the Corporate Office Suite, to the Vatican.” … but is that any reason to give up? As the fraudsters change tactics/improve, so should enforcement. That, unfortunately, is something the government is not very good at doing and that is my point. I have no faith in a bureaucracy being agile/progressive enough to counter those who would exploit it’s programs. I submit the current Medicare program as Exhibit A.

        • There used to be a program–and for all I know it still exists–where employees at health care facilities could rat out their bosses if they knew Medicare fraud was being committed, and the whistleblowers (and their lawyers) would get to keep a portion of the recovered money.

          Since the underlings were often clerks who were paid poorly, it would seem to me a tremendous “free market” incentive to report fraud and reap a big payday.

          Moreover, the standard villain according to the “eliminate fraud first” Republican playbook was actually, in this case, the hired gun, the Shane, so to speak, the trial lawyer.

          I know this because I used to write advertising fro a lawyer who was appealing to whistleblowers in Pittsburgh to come forward, and he would represent them.

          Does anybody know what happened to this program and why, if it wasn’t successful, it failed?

          If it’s still ongoing, maybe I will apply as a minimum wage employee to as many suspect clinics as possible and become a professional rat, making a fortune from all this alleged $500 billion in annual fraud.

          Spencer, I am sure, would be so proud of me for bettering myself in this way.

          By the way, it seems that some well-heeled Republican doctors were caught in this way, and they told their puppets in D.C. to knock it off.

          I have said it before and I will say it again: money gets what it wants, and the Bigger the Money, the more it wants, gets, and grows…

          I hated Nader when he cost Gore the election. But now I realize he was right.

        • “Spencer, I am sure, would be so proud of me for bettering myself in this way.”

          Jim Thornton, get help.

        • JimK said

          Jim

          The whistlerblower program you wrote about still exists. A large percentage of the State actions brought against Healthcare Providers for Medicare and Medicais fraud were initiated through information provided by industry insiders. This is one of the reasons that I thought the concept of “Undercover Patients” was a poor use of government resources. It would be more efficient to place undercover agents inside the industry.

  8. JimK said

    Alan

    How much of the Federal savings are actually just shifted to the individual States? It is my understanding, and correct me if am wrong, but the HCR Act will raise NY State’s tax burden by one billion dollars and we already spend more on Medicaid than any other State with the exception of California.
    In addition, while the excise tax is aimed at generous Union Health plans, the fact is most of the beneficiaries of these Cadillac Plans are municipal employees and again the excise tax will just be passed along to the State and Local taxpayer.

    Jim Kirk

    • Alan said

      That’s a great question, Jim. And I haven’t seen it addressed that often. i tried tracking down that information and didn’t come up with much. Republican Governors claim it will bring economic ruin and disaster, but they’re supposed to say that. Interestingly, however, a Democratic Governor, Phil Bredesen of Tennessee expressed similar concerns. (Although his comments addressed an earlier version of the legislation I’m not sure his concerns have been addressed. This will depend partly on how the federal government compensates states for increased Medicaid costs when the program is expanded to cover more low income Americans).

      If anyone out there has seen an objective analysis on the impact of the federal health care reforms on state budgets, please pass it along.

      • JimK said

        Alan

        Thanks for your response. I have sent the following message to a contact I have at the State Comptroller’s office:

        “I have been closely following the Healthcare Debate and as you may know the CBO stated that the Healthcare Reform Bill will save the Federal Government 130 Billion dollars in its first 10 years and 1.2 trillion dollars in it second decade. I have three questions on this Bill:

        1) How much will the increased eligibility for Medicaid cost the State of NY?

        2) In 2018, a 40% excise tax on healthcare benefits, which cost the employer over 27K annually will go into effect. I do not have the numbers but I am sure that municipal employees, particularly teachers, will exceed this threshold. With this in mind, how much can we expect the excise tax to add to the cost of individual property owners outside NYC?

        3) How much will the excise tax affect the overall State Budget?”

        Jim Kirk

  9. Rick said

    “Glen Beck community”????????

    The 10 years income and 6 years of expenses come from Congressman Ryan. He complained directly to Obama about this and received a non-answer. This occurred during Obama’s meeting with the Republicans. If you would have been paying attention there’s a slim possibility you might have picked up on it.

    “By the way Rick, if what you have been promomting-i.e., the concept that 10 years of increased taxes, etc. will pay for only 6 years of health care reform why does the deficit accelerates in the SECOND decade?”

    Jim, I’ll post this again, and in CAPS, so you pick up on it! THE CBO SCORES ON THE ASSUMPTIONS GIVEN IT!!!! WHAT WERE THOSE ASSUMPTIONS???? With the governments record how in the world can you be confident of the second decade figures?

    PS: You included me with Beck so in the future I’ll try to remember including you with the crowd of George Soros, SEIU, DailyKos & MOVEON.ORG community.

  10. Amazing.

    The idea that there is a set of basic facts that everyone has agreed to agree on is an utterly bracing concept for a world too long defined by the “we make our own reality” and profoundly anti-science orientation of recent years.

    I do not mean to suggest the CBO report will come close to satisfying those who don’t want to believe it. It is almost certain to rankle those who have been rooting for Obama’s Waterloo. But as the AP reported earlier today, the numbers are what the numbers are:

    “The Congressional Budget Office estimated the legislation would reduce the federal deficit by $138 billion over its first 10 years, and continue to drive down the red ink thereafter. Democratic leaders said the deficit would be cut $1.2 trillion in the second decade- and Obama called it the biggest reduction since the 1990s, when President Bill Clinton put the federal budget on a path to surplus.”

    Those who have been successfully demagoguing will surely not stop now–just as the Creationism and Intelligent Design community barely took a breath after their much deserved ass-whooping by a Bush-appointed Republican judge, no less, in Dover, PA case.

    Yesterday, Josh Marshall posted the following on Talking Points Memo:

    I’m on a telephone town hall with my representative (unfortunately) Jeb Hensarling. Most of the callers are elderly and ill-informed. Sadly, they probably get most of their information from Fox News like my parents do. It’s interesting to hear all the misconceptions floating around out there. This being Texas, a lot of the calls are about abortion. I’ve heard at least 2 callers complain about the federal funding of abortion they believe is part of the HCR bill. They mentioned Mexicans getting free abortions and even Chinese (???) abortions – whatever that means. Hensarling spouts the usual talking points. He promotes his support of HB 4529 which includes tax credits, medical liability reform, and a “template for price and quality transparency”. Mainly, I am appalled at the ignorance of the constituents asking the questions. However, I’m pleasantly surprised that at least 20% of the calls are in favor of the president and HCR. They come mainly from Dallas. Current woman suggested the Joint Chiefs should be convened to unseat “this illegal presidency” (!!! yikes, that’s crazy even for TX) There is a lot of discussion of the constitutionality of the government’s actions and talk of our “republic” rather than our “democracy” – telling language.

    Thank god there remains some basic arbiter for rationality in the US. My prediction: it won’t be long before the Fox machine comes up with a myriad new talking points about why the CBO is yet another co-opted propanda wing whose puppet master is Stalin’s ghost.

    And there will be no shortage of folks that will believe this.

    Oy, freaking, vey!

    • Gary Weiss said

      Jim,

      With all due respect, if you put any faith in the accuracy of the CBO numbers, I have a bridge for sale you might be interested in.

      When Medicare was first debated and concerns were raised about its future cost, they made predictions then, too. They were only off BY A FACTOR OF 10!! In other words, what they predicted would be a $10 billion cost, was actually $100 BILLION!! So, do I trust the CBO? NO WAY!!

  11. Rick said

    CBO grades on assumptions given to it. Alan, do you have confidence that the assumptions given were not a ruse?

    • Prediction confirmed almost instantaneously!

      At least Rick has the decency to use the “garbage in, garbage out” rhetorical gambit.

      Pretty soon, however, the integrity of the CBO itself–not just the assumptions upon which it based its report–will certainly be called into question, too.

      By the way, Rick, if what you have long been promoting–i.e., the concept that 10 years of increased taxes, etc. will pay for only 6 years of healthcare reform (that old chestnut talking point of the Glenn Beck community), why is it that the deficit reduction really accelerates in the SECOND decade?

      Here’s to hoping that things really start to turn around in this country on a host of fronts–

      some steps towards healthcare fairness

      sane regulation of the Wall Street pigs-at-the-trough mentality

      tax policies that, for the first time in decades, restrict the shrinkage of the middle class and fast-skyrocketing discrepancy between the lowest and highest paid earners in our increasingly oligarchical society

      a new appreciation for the Scientific Method as opposed to total reliance on “gut instinct” in policy making

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