Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bad News From the CBO?

Leaks seem to suggest potential problems with the much-anticipated CBO score which might also explain a sudden push to delay the Asian trip again. Of course a shortage of votes is certainly a potential explanation for the push to delay the trip as well. What there seems to be no explanation for, however, are the endless delays in releasing the bill Democrats are expected to actually vote on while they deem the other into law. Problems with the CBO score might just explain that delay. Philip Klein cites a report on which is unfortunately behind a pay firewall that is way out of my price league:
House Democratic leaders are still struggling to produce a final health care overhaul bill at an acceptable official cost estimate, but Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said Tuesday they continue to plan a final vote this week. House leaders were to huddle late Tuesday afternoon, following a noon session of the full Democratic Caucus. There were reports they are having trouble drafting a bill that meets their budgetary targets….
Rank-and-file Democrats did not talk about the details, but said that the CBO scores had come up short. “They were less than expected” in terms of deficit reduction, said Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, who plans to vote for the bill.
How short is short I wonder.  The score could be way off as Democrats face different hurdles attempting to game their CBO score via smoke and mirrors.  Philip Klein gives a great analysis that seems to concur with arguments Paul Ryan anticipated and outlined  that might prevent Democrats from obtaining a desirable CBO score using a two bill strategy.  From the Committee on the Budget:
Since the Senate bill was scored by CBO as reducing the deficit by $118 billion, can’t the reconciliation bill claim some of these savings to meet the $1 billion deficit reduction instruction?

Not if the two bill strategy is followed. Once the Senate bill is passed by the House, it will be considered current law for the purposes of CBO scoring. This means that the aggregate affect of the reconciliation bill must lead to net deficit reduction of at least $1 billion for FY 2010-2014 beyond what the Senate bill produced.5 Any provision in the bill that reduces the savings in the Senate bill would be scored as increasing the deficit. If the reconciliation bill did not produce $1 billion more in deficit reduction than the Senate bill for FY 2014-2019, then any provision that increases the deficit would be vulnerable to a Byrd Rule point of order.

The President has not put his Blair House proposal into legislative language and CBO has not
scored it yet. However, it seems likely that the President’s proposals that would increase cost (e.g.,increasing subsidies, increasing Medicaid, closing the “donut hole,” reducing and delaying the tax on plans) would exceed the savings from the President’s proposals that would reduce the cost of the Senate bill (higher fees and higher taxes). If the resulting reconciliation bill fails to achieve $1 billion in deficit reduction for FY 2010-2014, any provision in that bill that has a cost would be vulnerable to a Byrd Rule point of order.
In other words, as practiced as the Democrats have become in securing the CBO score they desire, pursuing a reconciliation strategy that makes the Senate bill law creates new problems for any of their proposed changes.  All the fixes now count as increases to the deficit and will have a rough time passing the Byrd rule in the Senate.  How many of these will have to go in order to get the right score?  How many will turn another maybe vote into a no?  As Klein notes, the  Democrats must have the score and bill online by tomorrow in order to vote on Saturday if they stick to their 72 hour posting requirement for the bill   Minor details like that, however, are completely expendable for the most transparent administration evah.  How long can they push it though?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Web Analytics