GOP: Don't trust CBO score of health bill

Republicans emphasize preliminary nature of good news for Democrats

Published March 18, 2010 5:15PM (EDT)

Democrats got exactly what they wanted with the Congressional Budget Office's scoring of their final healthcare reform package. So Republicans have to find a way of attacking the messenger that doesn't actually require attacking the CBO. They've done that by settling on a message about the still-preliminary nature of the score.

See, for instance, an e-mail sent out by the House Republican Conference Thursday afternoon. The full e-mail, all emphases in the original:

Are House Democrats ready to make a $940 billion gamble on an imprecise estimate?

Democrat spin on the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) deficit projections:

Henry Waxman, Chairman, House Energy and Commerce Committee: "‘I think a lot of the undecided members are people who care a lot about the deficit.' Waxman told reporters at the Capitol. ‘And I think this will go a long way to get their support for this.'" (The Hill, "Waxman: CBO numbers ‘go a long way' toward winning undecided votes," 3/18/2010)

What the CBO also said about those deficit numbers:

"CBO has developed a rough outlook for the decade following the 2010-2019 period..."

"The imprecision of that calculation reflects the even greater degree of uncertainty that attends to it, compared with CBO's 10-year budget estimates."

"CBO has not extrapolated estimates further into the future because the uncertainties surrounding them are magnified even more."

"...CBO anticipates that the reconciliation proposal would probably continue to reduce budget deficits relative to those under current law in subsequent decades, assuming that all of its provisions would continue to be fully implemented." (Congressional Budget Office Preliminary Estimate, 3/18/2010)

What the Republicans aren't mentioning, of course, is that these are all basically standard disclaimers from the CBO.


By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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