Custom Search

Friday, July 17, 2009

Congressional Budget Office Gives Dems Headache On Healthcare Proposal

Via Washington Post:

Under questioning by members of the Senate Budget Committee, Douglas Elmendorf, director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, said bills crafted by House leaders and the Senate health committee do not propose "the sort of fundamental changes" necessary to rein in the skyrocketing cost of government health programs, particularly Medicare. On the contrary, Elmendorf said, the measures would pile on an expensive new program to cover the uninsured.

Good or bad doesn't matter anymore as long as Democrats in the House can say "they passed something", which is why they are trying to jam through a very bad bill which would take choice away from American citizens, with no way to pay for the massive cost of the bill.

Elmendorf's blunt language startled lawmakers racing to meet Obama's deadline for approving a bill by the August break. The CBO is the official arbiter of the cost of legislation. Fiscal conservatives in the House said Elmendorf's testimony would galvanize the growing number of Democrats agitating for changes in the more than $1.2 trillion House bill, which aims to cover 97 percent of Americans by 2015.

A lot of Democrats want to see more savings, said Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), who is leading an effort to amend the bill before next week's vote in the Energy and Commerce Committee. "There's no way they can pass this bill on the House floor. Not even close."

Republicans also seized on Elmendorf's remarks, with House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) saying they prove "that one of the Democrats' chief talking points is pure fiction." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Elmendorf's testimony should serve as a "wake-up call" to Obama and Democratic leaders to heed requests from lawmakers in both parties to slow down the process.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said she delivered that message directly to Obama at the White House yesterday, and strongly urged him to give up his August deadline so bipartisan negotiators in the Senate Finance Committee can craft a new reform plan that does more to control costs.

"I think it would be prudent for the president to be patient," said Snowe, whom Obama is courting aggressively. Bipartisan approval of a finance bill "can provide huge impetus for the success of this legislation and achieving broader support as it goes through the legislative process."

Getting "something" passed by some arbitrary timeline seems to be Obama's goal, not caring how bad the bill is, what is in it, or how adversely it harms the economy and the American citizens.

Here is the bottom line:

The chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), also has taken a leading role in the Finance Committee negotiations. Yesterday, when Elmendorf appeared before Conrad's committee to testify about the nation's long-term budget problems, Conrad focused his questions on the House and Senate committee measures, which were drafted without Republican input.

"I'm going to really put you on the spot," Conrad said. "From what you have seen from the products of the committees that have reported, do you see a successful effort being mounted to bend the long-term cost curve?"

Elmendorf responded: "No, Mr. Chairman." Although the House plan to cover the uninsured, for example, would add more than $1 trillion to federal health spending over the next decade, according to the CBO, it would trim about $500 billion from existing programs -- increasing federal health spending overall.

You do the math.