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Posted by on Jan 7, 2011 in Economy, Health, Law, Politics, Society | 0 comments

Rules Are Made To Be Broken?

Republicans made a new budget rule that all legislation must be paid for, and one of the first things they did in the new session was break their own rule:

House Republicans plan to use a special exception in their budget rules to repeal the Democrats’ health care overhaul without paying for it – technically, at least.

The Congressional Budget Office said last year that the health care reform law and its accompanying reconciliation law would reduce the deficit by $143 billion through 2019. That figure is widely disputed and Republicans argue the law would actually increase the deficit. Still, since Republicans’ new rules to govern the House require that nearly all proposed legislation is fully paid for, the new House leaders have exempted repeal of the health care overhaul from such requirements.

The move makes it easier for them to repeal the health care overhaul, a key GOP campaign promise.

It’s easier, in other words, to ignore their own rules than to admit the truth, which is that repealing the Affordable Care Act (if they could do it of course, which they can’t) would increase the deficit, not reduce it:

The House of Representatives is planning to consider a bill (H.R. 2) to repeal the major health care legislation enacted last March—that is, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and the provisions of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 that are related to health care. CBO has not yet developed a detailed estimate of the budgetary impact of repealing that legislation, although it is working with the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) to complete such an estimate in the near future. Because Congressional deliberations on H.R. 2 are beginning, CBO today issued a less-detailed preliminary analysis of that legislation.

Because CBO and JCT estimated that the March 2010 health care legislation would reduce budget deficits over the 2010–2019 period and in subsequent years, we expect that repealing that legislation would increase budget deficits. The resulting increase in deficits projected for fiscal years 2012 through 2019 is likely to be similar in size to—but not exactly the same as—the reduction in deficits that was originally estimated to result from the enacted legislation.

Naturally, when the CBO’s analysis does not produce the desired result, the explanation is that the CBO was working with misleading assumptions:

Earlier Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office released a preliminary analysis that the repeal of the Health Care Reform law, including reduced spending on Medicare, would cost $145 billion through the end of the decade, and $230 billion by 2021.

But shortly after the CBO released its report, Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Republicans responded by releasing their own report examining the economic and fiscal consequences of the health care law on the economy and federal budget.

“I do not believe that repealing the job- killing health care law will increase the deficit,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said about the CBO’s findings. “CBO can only provide a score based on the assumptions that are given to them. And if you go back and look at the health care bill and the assumptions that were given to them, you see all of the double-counting that went on, you see the fact that the doc fix wasn’t even part of the bill.”

Eric Cantor had a similar response; Ezra Klein calls him on it:

Majority Leader Eric Cantor got asked about this, and he returned the reporter’s serve with a volley of nonsense. “About the budget implications, I think most people understand that the CBO did the job it was asked to do by the then-Democrat majority, and it was really comparing apples to oranges,” Cantor said. “It talked about 10 years’ worth of tax hikes and six years’ worth of benefits. Everyone knows beyond the 10-year window, this bill has the potential to bankrupt this federal government as well as the states.”That’s all well and good — but it’s not true. Take Cantor’s core point: The health-care reform bill includes “10 years’ worth of tax hikes and six years’ worth of benefits.” There’s nothing philosophical about this statement. It can be checked with a simple look at the spending tables the Congressional Budget Office published in their analysis of the bill. And when you look at those tables, Cantor’s statement falls apart[.]

Of course, as I indicated above, the Republicans’ repeal attempt is not going to work anyway, and they know it, so the entire exercise is a waste of time and money, and a betrayal of “the American people” Republicans are supposedly so concerned about. Spending precious legislative time trying to repeal a law that you can’t repeal because your party does not have the votes or the signing pen is not “doing the people’s business.”