CBO's Deficit-Busting Report a Boon to Democrats

95 percent covered, $1.2 trillion saved over 20 years

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The Congressional Budget Office has released its preliminary report on the current, and probably final, health care reform legislation. It says the bill would cover 95 percent of Americans, bringing health care to an additional 32 million people. Over the first ten years it is projected to cost $940 billion but bring in more than it spends, reducing the deficit by $130 billion. Over the first twenty years, it will reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion. This report is expected to be fleshed out in a forthcoming, full-length "scoring" of the bill.

  • As Good as Public Option  Liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias beams, "Note that though the bill doesn’t include a 'public option,' the CBO does expect 16 million additional people to be getting health care through public programs. By way of comparison, there are 12 million people living in Illinois. Seeing as how many Americans already have Medicare, the impact on public program expansion is similar to what we would see if New York State went single-payer."
  • Will Guarantee Passage  24/7 Wall Street's Douglas McIntyre calls the CBO report a "weapon of mass destruction" for Dems in the political fight. "It appeared that they only need one event to tip the scales in their direction, and they have gotten it."
  • Brings Together Liberal and Conservative Dems  The Washington Post's Ezra Klein notes that the final bill now covers more Americans and reduces the deficit more quickly than either of the previously voted upon bills. That should unify splintering Democrats. "Coverage is better than the Senate bill, which will reassure liberals, and deficit reduction is better than either bill, which will reassure conservatives."
  • How This Could All Change  The Atlantic's Derek Thompson foresees "the debate about whether Democrats are introducing a benefit that future governments will be unwilling to pay for." He notes that "Democrats are front-loading the benefits of the plan and leaving the cost-cutting goodies for the second decade." As those reforms roll out, Congress could make changes. But it could be politically difficult to repeal the benefits once they go into effect, and who would want to vote for shutting down cost-control measures?
  • Final Final Vote on Sunday?  The Hill reports, "The release of the CBO score sets into motion a 72-hour endgame on healthcare. Leaders have said they will give members 72 hours to review the legislation before a vote." That would mean a Sunday vote.
  • Shifts the Conversation  The Washington Post's Ezra Klein predicts health care chatter will shift from Congressional procedural moves like "deem and pass" to the bill itself and what effects it will have. That's a conversation Democrats are much more willing to have as it allows them to work on selling reform, not defending unusual political tactics.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.