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Congressional Republicans’ goal of repealing the Affordable Care Act continues to run afoul of their efforts to reduce the deficit, at least according to the judgment of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
The CBO said Tuesday that President Barack Obama’s signature health care law will cut the deficit by $109 billion over the next decade and is $84 billion cheaper after a Supreme Court ruling in June gave states more flexibility to nix an expansion of Medicaid.
The estimate cheered Democrats, who have sparred repeatedly with Republicans over whether the law cuts the deficit.
“It just goes to show, our Republican colleagues keep talking about the deficit, but they’ve now voted 37 times to blow a hole in the deficit by over $100 billion,” House Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said.
As Van Hollen noted, Democrats pushed Republicans to wait for a CBO score on their latest repeal bill before passing it early this month — a request the GOP declined.
The estimate that repeal would add to the deficit could complicate Republicans’ drive to repeal the health care law next year if they use the budget reconciliation process to avoid a Senate filibuster. Democrats imposed pay-as-you-go discipline to reconciliation, requiring that such bills not add to the deficit. Republicans could rewrite those rules and jam through
deficit-financed tax cuts and spending on a majority vote. Or they could cut spending somewhere else.
Republicans were largely unfazed by the report, however. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton said he was holding a conference call to discuss the results Tuesday afternoon, but he added that they are not likely to dampen his Members’ enthusiasm for repealing the law. Indeed, he noted, only one thing determines the fate of the law: the elections.
“We are where we are,” the Michigan Republican said. “The electorate on
Nov. 6 will render their second opinion, so we’ll see what happens.”
Rep. Greg Walden, deputy chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said the economic argument alone shouldn’t dissuade Republicans from wanting to repeal the law.
“It doesn’t make it the best policy going forward because there are these other issues about effects on jobs and the economy, effects on access to care,” the Oregon lawmaker said. “There are lots of other issues other than just the raw dollar number.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), checking his BlackBerry for the CBO results at a Tuesday press conference, said the reduction in the deficit backs up what Democrats have been saying since the law was enacted in 2010.