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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Congressional Budget Office Puts Another Nail In Obamacare's Coffin

(Cartoon by Michael Ramirez found at Townhall)

For the second time in as many weeks, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has issued a letter, sent to Steny H. Hoyer, House majority leader, which deals a "blow" to Obamacare, at a time when the Democratic leaders and Barack Obama are trying to push the proposal through Congress.

The Politico (linked above):

For the second time this month, congressional budget analysts have dealt a blow to the Democrat's health reform efforts, this time by saying a plan touted by the White House as crucial to paying for the bill would actually save almost no money over 10 years.

A key House chairman and moderate House Democrats on Tuesday agreed to a White House-backed proposal that would give an outside panel the power to make cuts to government
-financed health care programs. White House budget director Peter Orszag declared the plan "probably the most important piece that can be added" to the House's health care reform legislation.

But on Saturday, the Congressional Budget Office said the proposal to give an independent panel the power to keep Medicare spending in check would only save about $2 billion over 10 years- a drop in the bucket compared to the bill's $1 trillion price tag.

The initial analysis on the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, as introduced by several House committees on July 14, stated:

According to CBO’s and JCT’s assessment, enacting H.R. 3200 would result in a net increase in the federal budget deficit of $239 billion over the 2010-2019 period. That estimate reflects a projected 10-year cost of the bill’s insurance coverage provisions of $1,042 billion, partly offset by net spending changes that CBO estimates would save $219 billion over the same period, and by revenue provisions that JCT estimates would increase federal revenues by about $583 billion over those 10 years.

By the end of the 10-year period, in 2019, the coverage provisions would add $202 billion to the federal deficit, CBO and JCT estimate. That increase would be partially offset by net cost savings of $50 billion and additional revenues of $86 billion, resulting in a net increase in the deficit of an estimated $65 billion.

The figures released yesterday do not represent a complete cost estimate for the legislation. In particular, the estimated impact of the provisions related to health insurance coverage is based on specifications provided by the committee staff, rather than on a detailed analysis of the legislative language. (The estimates for other spending provisions reflect the specific legislative language. JCT has separately published its estimates of the effects of revenue provisions contained in H.R. 3200.) In addition, the figures do not include certain costs that the government would incur to administer the proposed changes and the impact of the bill’s provisions on other federal programs, and they do not reflect any modifications or amendments made after the bill was introduced. Nevertheless, this analysis reflects the major net budgetary effects of H.R. 3200.

That was on July 17, 2009 and the impact of that analysis was felt in Congress for the following week, with moderate Democrats aka Blue Dogs, becoming increasingly concerned over the massive costs, with very little savings, of Obamacare.

Yesterday's letter to Hoyer included good news for Democratic leaders and Obama saying that the Independent Medicare Advisory Council Act of 2009 "might lead to significant long-term savings in federal spending on health care but would also entail shifting some power from the Congress to the executive branch."

The bad news:

In CBO’s judgment, the probability is high that no savings would be realized, for reasons discussed in the letter, but there is also a chance that substantial savings might be realized. Looking beyond the 10-year budget window, CBO expects that this proposal would generate larger but still modest savings on the same probabilistic basis.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell responded to this analysis by stating "The President said that rising health care costs are an imminent threat to our economy and that any reform must reduce these long-term costs. But CBO has made clear once again that the Democrats' bills in Congress aren't reducing costs and in fact could just make the problem worse."

John Boehner's spokeswoman issued another statement, concluding "This letter underscores the enormous challenges that Democrats face trying to pay for their massive and costly government takeover of health care. In their rush to pass a bill, Democrats continue to ignore the stark economic reality facing our nation.

Let's scrap the current proposal and come together in a meaningful way to reform health care in America by reducing cost, expanding access and at a price tag we can afford."

The PDF of the 8 page letter sent to Hoyer is here.

With the passing of Obama's arbitrary "deadline" with no vote from Congress on America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, it will make August a month where not only Congress goes on their vacation, but a chance for both sides of this issue to push their points home.

Via Politico again we see both have already set their wheels in motion to present their side to the American people.

"The hot days of August are going to be a critical time for every member of Congress," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the Maryland Democrat charged with getting his colleagues re-elected next year as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. You don't want to create a political vacuum when you leave Washington."

Van Hollen said he has been assured by the White House it will be actively promoting health care, with the help of outside groups allied with it. And Virginia Gov. Tim Kane, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, told House Democrats last week that the committee would help them sell Obama's agenda and as well as bolstering their reelection efforts next year.

A White House official said the administration is still in the process of making plans for the recess, but labor leaders and other administration allies told POLITICO that they’re gearing up to spend millions on television advertisements and grass roots organizing. And, judging by spending already reported by some of these groups, they are off to an impressive start.

“We’re going to fight the fight,” said Gerald McEntee, the president of AFSCME, the public sector workers union. McEntee said his union would send television advertisements and organizers into the districts of more than 40 wavering legislators with the goal of getting their constituents “literally incensed about the fact that they’re standing in the way of health care reform.”

Kaine’s counterparts at the main Republican campaign committees, as a range of conservative groups, are making their own plans.

“There’s a reason why they wanted to pass this before the August break, and that’s because the president continues to see his popularity slowly come down to earth, and the policy continues to grow more unpopular by the day,” said NRCC spokesman Ken Spain, whose committee plans a month-long offensive aiming television ads and other resources at vulnerable Democrats. “It’s going to be much tougher to get these guys to come back and cast a vote for something they’ve been hearing bad things about over the course of August.”

Spain said his message would focus primarily on the cost of health care reform Committee and focus on vulnerable members like Virginia Rep. Tom Perriello and Colorado Rep. Betsy Markey. Key Republican Senate targets include Majority Leader Harry Reid, while Democrats say they hope to exact a price from North Carolina’s Richard Burr, among others, from opposing health care legislation.

Polls, across the board has shown a substantial slip in public support for Obama's handling of the healthcare issue and for Obamacare in general, to which conservatives will continue to pound home the massive pricetag, with very little savings to offset such a high price and the increase in the federal deficit if Obamacare is enacted.

The Swamp:

But, at this juncture in the push for healthcare reform on Capitol Hill, it is the president's handling of healthcare that is making headlines this morning in Washington:

Just 49 percent surveyed by the Post and ABC said they approve of the way Obama is handling healthcare. That is down from 53 percent in June and 57 percent in April.

The share of people voicing disapproval for the president's handling of the issue has risen from 29 percent in April to 44 percent in the newest, July survey.

Gallup, July 21, 2009, "More Disapprove Than Approve of Obama on Healthcare."

As the debate over healthcare reform intensifies, the latest USA Today/Gallup poll finds that more Americans disapprove (50%) than approve (44%) of the way U.S. President Barack Obama is handling healthcare policy. There is a tremendous partisan gap in these views, with 74% of Democrats but only 11% of Republicans approving. Independents are more likely to disapprove than to approve of Obama's work on healthcare.

July 13, 2009, Rasmussen gave a hint to have fast support for Obama on Obamacare is slipping:

Forty-nine percent (49%) of U.S. voters now at least somewhat oppose the health care reform plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats, while 46% at least somewhat favor it, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

Just two weeks ago, 50% were for the reform plan, and 45% were opposed.

The “nays” also continue to have the edge in terms of intensity. While 22% strongly favor the Democrats’ health care reform plan, 38% strongly oppose it, up four points from the previous survey.

Among those voters who have health insurance, opposition is even higher: 43% favor the plan, but 52% oppose it. Those who strongly oppose it outnumber those who strongly favor it by two-to-one – 40% to 20%.

Is it any wonder he put the pressure on and tried to strong arm congress into pushing the bill through before the August recess?

Zogby, July 16, 2009, via Newsmax:

The year's biggest survey on healthcare reveals most Americans oppose the very reforms that President Obama is trying to push through Congress.

By 52 percent to 40 percent, voters say they are against the healthcare bill introduced July 14 to the House of Representatives, a new Zogby International poll reports.

Co-sponsored by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, the survey is based on interviews with nearly 4,000 adults nationwide – the largest such survey conducted this year.

The poll's findings: Americans oppose raising tax rates to pay for a new healthcare system. Instead, they favor innovative approaches that would save money, which in turn could be used to fund health benefits for the poor.

Among those currently insured, Zogby reports, 84 percent are satisfied with their current health care. Also, four out of every five people surveyed agreed that rising healthcare costs are hurting American businesses.

Pollster John Zogby says the results indicate that Americans want costs reduced and wish for everyone to be insured. But they are deeply divided on how to accomplish those goals.

"The likelihood of achieving consensus is low," Zogby says.

One of the concerns: the estimated $1 trillion cost over the next decade of expanding health care coverage.

August is going to see a push from the White House and their allies to get Obamacare passed and those opposed to to the plan in it's present form with be out there countering that.

Make sure your voice, whichever side of the issue you are on, is heard as well, especially while the politicians are home and are forced to face their constituents.

As I have reminded you and said on multiple posts:

Contact your Congressman, let them hear from you, loud and clear... NO Obamacare.

Then Contact your Senators and tell them the same thing.