New Fox News piece: The CBO's Sleight of Hand On Health Care

My new piece at Fox News starts this way:

At the beginning of the week, the Congressional Budget Office gave House Speaker Nancy Pelosi their estimates of the how much the health care reconciliation bill will cost. But Pelosi decided to wait days to release those numbers. For Democrats anxious to pass the bill, the delay has been extremely frustrating as Congress must wait 72-hours after the release of the CBO estimates before voting. They desperately wanted to vote before Sunday morning, when Obama leaves on his trip for Indonesia, Australia, and Guam. Naturally, Democrats want President Obama around to do any last-minute arm-twisting that might be necessary. Thus, the House cut would have had to release the CBO estimates by Wednesday night. They missed that deadline.

But, despite delaying the vote until after Obama leaves on his trip, Pelosi had good reasons for waiting to release the numbers. The CBO probably estimated the costs for the health care bill to be too high, probably over the magic one trillion dollar price tag, which she thinks means even more congressmen opposing the bill.

What is going on behind the scenes during this delay? Probably a lot of number crunching. Congressional Democrats have the CBO equations used to calculate expenditures and taxes and have spent the last few days changing different numbers in the bill to jimmy the total costs below a trillion dollars. Yet, no one really believes that the CBO equations accurately measure the costs of the health care bill to the government or to anyone else. Once one knows what costs the CBO counts and which ones are ignored, gaming these numbers can allow Democrats to hide huge parts of the bill’s costs. . . .

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