Saturday, May 2, 2009

CBO Proving to be an "Obstacle" to Health Care Reform--I Hope They Don't Cave!

Looks like it's "in season" for shooting the messenger up on Capitol Hill!

Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus was heard to complain this week about that pesky Congressional Budget Office (CBO) saying that, "The slight challenge we have is getting numbers and estimates from CBO,“ he went on, "Otherwise, health care reform is in jeopardy. The learning curve for all of us is fairly steep."

Well Senator, perhaps you missed the CBO's December report outlining 150 options for reform and the CBOs pricing of each.

There are really two problems here for eager health care reformers:
  1. The CBO is playing it straight. Their numbers are realistic and they aren't looking the other way every time a politician, including the Senate Fianance Committee chair, would like them to price billions of savings from things like, "waste fraud and abuse."
  2. The CBO is the official referee for the Congress on budget matters. Their projections are the ones everyone must use to score legislation, or vote in favor of ignoring it in the light of day.
What the CBO says is further complicated because:
  1. All of the Democratic Congressional leaders, the White House, and the recent budget resolutions from the House and the Senate, all say health care reform has to be pay-go--they have to offset every new spending dollar with either cuts or revenue from somewhere else.
  2. The new Office of Management and Budget Director for President Obama--Peter Orszag--signed that December document as the then CBO director. Kind of hard to say the CBO doesn't know what they are talking about.
Democrats have painted themselves into one big box here.

And I am glad they have.

In my mind, health care reform means fixing the system so we stop spending/wasting so much more than every other industrial nation on health care thereby making our system more affordable and effective.

If the CBO just rolls over and lets Congress make up excuses just to spend more for health care we will not have reform--we will only have a bigger fiscal disaster on our hands. How do you reform entitlements by pretending?

Oh, that pesky CBO!

Perhaps this December post on the CBO's scoring of 150 health care reform options applies to Senator Baucus: CBO to Health Care Reformers: Naive Policy Makers Need Not Apply
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