Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III had a task for the GAO: take out all the reform in Obamacare, and tell me what happens to the deficit. Via Steve Benen, he got the answer he wanted: the deficit increases. Here he is touting this new study.
According to the GAO under a realistic set of assumptions the health care law will increase the deficit by 7/10th percent of GDP or roughly $6.2 trillion over the next 75 years. $6.2 trillion unfunded liability of the United States. In other words, the GAO reveals that the big tax increases in the bill come nowhere close to covering the massive spending.Sessions told the GAO to project what would happen if the provisions of the bill designed to curb projected growth in health care spending—the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the excise tax on high-cost plans, and reductions in Medicare payments to providers based on performance—were repealed or phased out over time. The GAO said that, yes, taking the cost-saving stuff out of the law, but leaving the rest intact, would cost more money and increase the deficit. But here's what else the GAO said: If the law is implemented as passed, with the cost-saving measures intact, the deficit will decrease 1.5 percent as a share of the economy over the next 75 years, and 1.2 percent of this improvement in the deficit is directly attributed to the Affordable Care Act.
Cooking the books, Republican style. It's not the GAO's fault; Sessions handed them the recipe and directed them to cook the books according to it. So that's what they did. And right on cue, the right-wing media—Fox, National Review, Limbaugh, Drudge—ran with it. Not, of course, the part where the GAO says the cost-saving stuff in the law will save money if it stays in the law. Just the part where if you take out all the stuff that saves money, it costs a lot.
That's policy-making, Republican style.