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Is healthcare legislation full of gimmicks?

January 4, 2011

US Congressional Rep. Paul Ryan claims healthcare legislation full of spendy “gimmicks”. A neutral oversight panel says “liar, liar, pants on fire.”

The Congressional Budget Office refuted Ryan’s claims nearly a year ago. But that didn’t stop him going all loosey-goosey with the facts just today. Those politicians can’t let facts stand in the way of a good sound bite, can they? And also, that Paul Ryan is so cute (if you’re a housewife in Kansas, that is. Me? I think he looks a little demonic.)

(picture credit to Politico.com)

Here’s the Paul Ryan quote on Politico: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0111/47000.html.

Politico claims the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of cost savings is “widely disputed” but that’s only because the Republicans shout out their disputes of the CBO numbers on Fox News and every other media outlet they own.

The CBO has been widely accepted as a neutral bean-counter for decades. Even Wikipedia notes the CBO’s nonpartisanship, and doesn’t even have a “controversies” section of their entry on the CBO. They’ve been described thusly:

For competence and integrity, few organizations command more respect in Washington than the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. (source)

But the GOP conveniently picks and chooses which CBO numbers they’ll quote and support, and ignores CBO numbers that show their emperor has no clothes. As recently as March 5, 2010 Republicans called CBO estimates unassailable when those estimates showed that a tax on big banks wouldn’t really do anything to recoup TARP fund losses.

More of the same: Bloggasm shows us countless examples of how the Republicans loved the CBO before they hated it.

Here’s the summary of the CBO run-down of the cold hard numbers, courtesy of the Off The Charts blog at the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities website: http://www.offthechartsblog.org/on-health-reform-and-the-deficit-there-they-go-again/

Rep. Ryan claimed that the Affordable Care Act uses revenues from Social Security and premiums from a new long-term care insurance to offset the cost of health reform. In reality, health reform reduces the deficit even without counting these revenues. (Off the Charts blog, CBPP website)

Readers might also want to keep in mind 1 other thing: CBO numbers consistently under-estimates future savings, due to their counting methodology….

In the early 1980s, Congress changed the way Medicare paid hospitals… The savings in 1986 alone were as much as three years of [CBO-]estimated savings.

In the 1990s, the biggest change in Medicare came with the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, a compromise between a Republican-controlled Congress and a Democratic administration. At the time, the Congressional Budget Office forecast that, from 1998 to 2002, the act would reduce Medicare spending by $112 billion — a 9.1 percent reduction. …  The actual savings turned out to be 50 percent greater in 1998 and 113 percent greater in 1999 than the budget office forecast. (source)

Here we go, ladies and gentlemen, and gentle readers. The GOP is going to waste your time and mine, and spend some of that Tea Party money they hauled in, trying to kill an un-killable bill. Truly priceless. Way to go, gentlemen, way to go.

Our country is in real problem territory. There are things that need to be done, things to fix, things to change, jobs to create…    but the I predict the GOP will spend the next 4 to 6 weeks doing nothing but pushing a rock called healthcare repeal up a hill called “ain’t gonna happen”.

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