White House's Challenge: Refute $340 Billion Deficit Claim Before Study Hit

This article is from the archive of our partner .

The Obama administration had a hard time countering a study that found Obamacare actually added $340 bilion to the deficit, which started making headlines before it was publicly available on Tuesday. At least that's what an unnamed official told The Washington Post's Lori Montgomery about the study by conservative policy analyst Charles Blahous, the Barack Obama-appointed GOP trustee for Medicare and Social Security. The study's out now, so we expect to see more substantive challenges, but so far the administration's faced the tough job of refuting a study it couldn't cite.

Blahous contends that previous, bipartisan analyses have counted medicare savings twice: Toward both the Medicare trust fund and to funding expanded insurance benefits. The White House commented anonymously to Montgomery, but also ran a blog post by health policy deputy assistant Jeanne Lambrew, challenging the study and leaning on the previous approval the Congressional Budget Office had given Obamacare. Both counter-arguments sound about the same, citing "new math" and accusing Blahous of trying to "fight the political battles of the past." From the Post

“Opponents of reform are using ‘new math’ while they attempt to refight the political battles of the past,” a White House budget official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the report was not publicly available. “The fact of the matter is, the Congressional Budget Office and independent experts concluded that the health-reform law will reduce the deficit. That was true the day the bill was signed into law, and it’s true today.”

And from what Politico calls the administration's Monday night "prebuttal" on its blog:

Today, we are reading about another brand of “new math” in describing how the Affordable Care Act will affect our nation’s Federal budget deficit. In another attempt to refight the battles of the past, one former Bush Administration official is wrongly claiming that some of the savings in the Affordable Care Act are “double-counted” and that the law actually increases the deficit. This claim is false.

Unfortunately for the administration, it had little to refute when Blahous's study first hit the papers. Until the actual figures were released earlier today, there was nothing specific to call into question, and all the White House could say was: "Trust us, he's wrong."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.