Republicans trash Congressional Budget Office before American Health Care Act is scored

One Republican senator is blasting the bill to his consitutents

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published March 13, 2017 2:31PM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Two trends from last week regarding the House Republicans' Obamacare repeal bill are still in effect: Republican leaders are pre-emptively attacking the anticipated analysis from the Congressional Budget Office that will say how many Americans will lose their insurance under the American Health Care Act, while many Republican legislators are expressing doubts about the GOP's Obamacare replacement bill.

Over the past week, many Republicans have been trying to discredit the budget office so that its findings won't harm their cause: the Obamacare repeal bill. As The Washington Post reported on Saturday:

But they can avoid facing up to the negative consequences of their plan for only so long: The CBO will soon issue a report on their proposal, probably this week. So Republicans preemptively attacked the country’s designated budget scorekeepers. "If you’re looking to the CBO for accuracy, you’re looking in the wrong place," White House spokesman Sean Spicer inveighed. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., sneered at the office’s "unelected bureaucrats." Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., declared that "CBO has scored everything wrong forever, so they’re a minor concern."

Yet the budget office may not be the Obamacare repeal bill's only problem. Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada — the only Republican senator facing re-election in a state won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 — had harsh words about the proposed law during a closed meeting with some of his constituents on Saturday.

"Not everything in the Affordable Care Act is bad," Heller said. "As we move forward and take a look at some of these changes and what’s occurring, I think we ought to embrace what’s good in the Affordable Care Act."

He added that he would not be opposed to delaying any repeal efforts.

"They’re talking about 2020," Heller said. "Now they’re talking about making the changes in 2018. That’s not enough time for Nevada to adjust. We need time to adjust. I want to move that thing up four or five years."

He also criticized the Republican bill for maintaining its tax on high-cost insurance plans, better known as the Cadillac tax.

"My argument with the Republicans is if we’re going to make the changes, don’t repeal the Affordable Care Act so you can keep all the taxes. I think that’s unfair and I don’t think that’s a responsible way to move forward," Heller said.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Congressional Budget Office Dean Heller Obamacare