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Hullabaloo


Saturday, July 18, 2009

 
Friday Night News Dump

by digby

Not that it matters, since the showboating Senators had to have a dramatic hearing with the CBO chief before the committees were finished and the resultant headlines have been disseminated as if they came down from Mt Sinai, but this was released last night by the From the House Energy, Ways and Means and Education and Labor committees

For Immediate Release:

July 17, 2009

CBO Scores Confirms Deficit Neutrality of Health Reform Bill

Washington, D.C. -- The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released estimates this evening confirming for the first time that H.R. 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, is deficit neutral over the 10-year budget window – and even produces a $6 billion surplus. CBO estimated more than $550 billion in gross Medicare and Medicaid savings. More importantly, the bill includes a comprehensive array of delivery reforms to set the stage for lowering the future growth in health care costs.

Net Medicare and Medicaid savings of $465 billion, coupled with the $583 billion revenue package reported today by the House Committee on Ways and Means, fully finance the previously estimated $1.042 trillion cost of reform, which will provide affordable health care coverage for 97% of Americans.

"This fulfills the strong commitment of the President and House leadership to enact health reform on a deficit-neutral basis," said Chairman Henry A. Waxman, Chairman Charles B. Rangel, and Chairman George Miller. "The reforms included in this legislation will help control health care costs and expand access to quality, affordable coverage to all Americans in a fiscally-responsible manner."

The estimates also cover important reinvestments in Medicare and Medicaid, including phasing in the closing of the "donut" hole in the Medicare drug benefit. The bill’s long-term reform of Medicare’s physician fee schedule to eliminate the potential 21 percent cut in fees, and put payments on a sustainable basis for the future, will cost about $245 billion. Those costs, however, are not included in the net calculations above, as they will be absorbed under the upcoming statutory "pay go" legislation that is pending in the House.


Naturally, the inviolate Chuck Todd 30,000 feet rule of reporting is in effect and the Politico headlines reads this way: CBO deals another blow to House health plan.

Why, you ask? It's hard to say because the article itself actually tells the story accurately:

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office dealt another blow to House Democrats on Friday night, saying their health care bill would increase the federal deficit by $239 billion over the next 10 years.

The projected shortfall means Democrats would need to find additional revenue or make deeper cuts to existing programs in order to meet their goal of paying for the $1 trillion bill.

But those projections don't account for a $245 billion reduction in the deficit this legislation would create, if Democrats can also approve new balanced budget rules that would permanently address an annual shortfall in Medicare payments to physicians Democrats may also defend the cost of their bill by pointing out that in the long run, under new accounting rules, the bill would generate a $6 billion surplus.


This is where the Chuck Todd rule comes in. The reason the CBO score of the House bill "delivers another blow" obviously has nothing to do with the facts. If all the legislation they hope to pass is passed, it will result in a surplus, also called "savings" or "cost control" while covering many millions more people. But because the Politico has added another headline to a string of headlines that say health care reform is on the ropes, it means it's in trouble regardless of the facts. Or as Chuck would put it, "that's just the political reality." (Think of it like Westmoreland's body count or Rumsefeld's metrics. Just count the number of headlines regardless of how much ground has been taken.)

Yesterday, I noted in passing that reporters seem to be showing an unseemly amount of glee at the prospect of health care reform failing. I suppose it's a good inside baseball political story, but they avoid good stories all the time. (The sordid tale of an out of control rogue vice president ordering torture and assassination hits all over the world doesn't really seem to interest them all that much, for instance.)So, it's hard to know why they would be so happy to see health reform fail unless they are childishly excited to see Obama to fall off of his pedestal. I think it may still shake their own faith in their infallibility to see Obama succeed where Bush, a man they hailed as some sort of Delphic Superhero for years before the truth made their idol worship ridiculous, failed so miserably. I have always suspected that their affection for Obama was actually quite shallow and hid a certain amount of resentment at being proven asses for having absurdly elevated the cartoonlike Bush to iconic status early on. Naturally, they want to even the score.

As for the Americans who don't have health insurance or are being forced into bankruptcy even though they are "covered," well, they just need to get jobs with great benefits as political reporters. It's not like they don't have options. After all, political reporters are just like you and me. (David Gregory's mom is worried she's going to lose her job, fergawdsake.) If they can get employment that offers great health benefits there's no reason you shouldn't be able to also. As Mark Halperin prophesized, "a good reason to bet against major health care reform passing this year is that most reporters still have it."

It's just another game for these people, like everything else in politics. The favored team is not so dominating that they are winning going away, so suddenly it looks like there could be an upset. And because they actually score the game (the "political reality") rather than simply call it, they can actually help make that happen.

So, everybody grab your popcorn and jujubes and settle in to watch the political press join with the powerful corporations to try to destroy health care reform and then call it a Republican "win." What fun.


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