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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The CBO Gives Dems a Stay

The CBO came out with their scoring of the Senate's Finance Committee bill and surprisingly enough the numbers were positive.

Congressional budget experts said Wednesday that the sweeping health care overhaul bill awaiting a vote in the Senate Finance Committee will cost $829 billion over the next 10 years.

The preliminary report, released Wednesday by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, said the committee's health care reform package will not add to the national deficit -- and will save $81 billion over the next 10 years compared to current federal health care spending.

"Our balanced approach to health reform has paid off yet again with the news today that the America's Healthy Future Act remains fully paid for, begins to reduce the federal deficit within 10 years and makes significant reductions in federal debt over the next several decades," Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said after the CBO released it's report.

Now, everyone will spin this every which way. Here's the bottom line. First, the cost of the bill is below $900 billion. That's the first of President Obama's pillars. Second, this bill doesn't add to the deficit but rather it actually winds up saving money according to the scoring.

Now, we can all go back and forth about the difference between cost projections and actual costs. That may or may not be true, but is ultimately irrelevant for this discussion. The Democrats have won a critical political victory. As such, this bill can now move forward and pass out of committee.

I am not necessarily sure that this changes the dynamic in the long run. This bill will still be merged with others and the scoring on those is still undetermined. The major philosophical battles within the Democratic party remain and those haven't been solved with the scoring by the CBO. Still, for this evening, the Democrats have a reason to smile.


Anonymous said...

Except for two major issues:

1. This bill won't pass committee. The Senate Finance Committee has 13 Democrats and 10 Republicans. That means if 2 Democrats vote no, it dies. We already know none of the 3 Republicans Baucus worked with will vote for it (of course they made that obvious from the beginning). And it just so happens there are two Democrats who have said they'll vote against it: Wyden and Rockefeller. Both have been taken aback by Baucus' arrogance in his handling of the bill.

To add insult to injury, Baucus refuses to speak to either Wyden or Rockefeller. He says its the President's responsibility to get them to vote for his bill.

Then there's the fact that fewer than 100 House Democrats are willing to vote for a plan that taxes health insurance benefits.

And last but not least, there were as many as 10 Democrats on the Finance Committee willing to vote for some form of public option. Do they seem like the kind of Senators who would support Baucus' bill, or the kind who just want to get past Baucus in order to write the real bill?

So I don't see the relevance in the CBO scoring a bill literally nobody but Baucus and Conrad want.

Lisa said...

I hope this bill does some good.