Old CBO: Obamacare Will Save $120 Billion. New CBO: We Have No Idea


The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) revised – if you can call it that – its forecast on the long-term impact Obamacare will have on the Federal deficit, all but abandoning any attempt at assigning a concrete dollar figure after reporting in 2010 that the law would trim the deficit by $120 billion over ten years.

Now, the CBO is indicating there’s just no telling what kind of financial impact Obamacare will have on the deficit – but, after already doubling its initial estimate of the law’s implementation costs once before, it’s not attempting to set a new estimate this time around.

“Four years after enactment of what is widely viewed as President Barack Obama’s key legislative achievement, however, it’s unclear whether the health care law is still on track to reduce the deficit or whether it may actually end up adding to the federal debt,” Roll Call reported Wednesday. “In fact, the answer to that question has become something of a mystery.”

In its latest report on the law, the Congressional Budget Office said it is no longer possible to assess the overall fiscal impact of the law. That conclusion came as a surprise to some fiscal experts in Washington and is drawing concern. And without a clear picture of the law’s overall financing, it could make it politically easier to continue delaying pieces of it, including revenue raisers, because any resulting cost increases might be hidden.

Anyone who’s been watching Obamacare gestate since the President’s first term in office won’t be surprised. Here’s a nice recap from Town Hall:

[O]n the eve of Democrats’ party-line Obamacare vote in 2010, they used a cynically manufactured Congressional Budget Office (CBO) “score” to provide jittery members a fig leaf with which to justify an ‘aye’ tally. The report they hailed purported to show that Obamacare would cost less than a trillion dollars and that it would help reduce deficits. Republicans argued that it was preposterous to suggest that the creation of a brand new, massive entitlement program could possibly save the government money, but triumphant Democrats waved around the CBO document as the gospel truth.

In February, CBO went ahead and let everybody in on the poorly-kept secret: Obamacare would cost at least $2 trillion (emphasis on at least) and – in stark opposition to Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) cheerleading assertion that it would actually create 400,000 jobs “almost immediately” – would cost jobs.

Now, the CBO is essentially saying there’s no reason to even try to measure the reality of life after Obamacare. In light of the bad news it brought the last time it tried, that’s a pretty unsettling “no comment.”

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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