Obama's Latest Health Care Lie


That would be in remarks the president made yesterday:

The Congressional Budget Office now reports that this bill will reduce our deficit by $132 billion over the first decade, and by as much as $1.3 trillion in the decade after that.  So I just want to be clear, for all those who are continually carping about how this is somehow a big spending government bill, this cuts our deficit by $132 billion the first 10 years, and by over a trillion in the second.  That argument that opponents are making against this bill does not hold water.

There are actually multiple lies and deceptions in this paragraph, beginning with the verb "reports" to describe what the Congressional Budget Office does. The CBO, as Peter Suderman documented in his foundational Reason feature on the organization, does not "report," it "projects," in highly speculative fashion, what a proposed piece of legislation may cost. What's more, as Suderman detailed in a more recent piece that every American should read before listening to a word the president says, the CBO is bound in its "scoring" to take at face value what every living politician–Obama included–knows to be a stinking lie. That is, Congress' promises to make hundreds of billions of dollars worth of unspecified future spending "cuts." From the article:

[A]s the health care debate has progressed throughout the year, Congressional Democrats have become far more adept at getting the CBO to count the beans just the way they want. […]

Indeed, they have become so skilled at getting what they want out of the CBO that the office has taken to including strongly worded warnings that the various bills' real costs may not actually match their estimates. […]

Analysts at the CBO are not blind to this, but they must score bills as if what is written is what will happen. However, they are not prohibited from issuing strong warnings about what might happen if the legislative reality they assumed for scoring purposes somehow does not come to pass

Which is exactly what they have done (read the whole thing for multiple examples). And even given Obama's root lie of "reports," and passing over the absurd lie that this is somehow not "a big spending government bill," there's a lie built into the very CBO claim that the president is waving around like a lie-shattering club. Cue ABCnews.com's Jake Tapper:

But the deficit reduction number cited by the president has been disavowed by CBO.

When CBO first guesstimated by how much the Senate health reform legislation would reduce the deficit, they said it would be about half a percent of GDP—$1.3 billion, said Democrats.

But on Sunday, CBO Director Doug Elmendorf issued a correction, downgrading the estimate from half a percent of GDP to between a quarter and a half a percent. The reason is that CBO misinterpreted when recommendations from the Medicare Advisory Committee would kick in.

Finally, as Suderman again has tirelessly pointed out, cutting the deficit is not the same as spending less, contra Obama's formulation here. Why, it's almost as if you could write something every day about the president's health care mendacity!

I'm still waiting for those who whooped and hollered when Obama said "we will call you out" to react with similar enthusiasm when the caller-outer-in-chief is caught red-handed. I guess we'll have to wait until they find themselves on the other side of the legislative argument. Who coulda guessed that the "reality-based community" would fudge facts to win fights just like the faith-based monsters they replaced?

Watch Reason.tv below on what typically happens to entitlement projections: