Monday, February 22, 2010

Impartial Scorekeepers NOT Attending White House Summit

Various reports circulating on Capitol Hill today have indicated that Congressional Budget Office (CBO) staff will not be participating in Thursday’s health summit.  Coupled with the lack of details in the White House proposal itself, which CBO stated yesterday will make it incapable of rendering an official score on the President’s document, the lack of participation by Congress’ impartial budget scorekeepers means the Administration’s claims that their proposal costs “only” $950 billion and would reduce the deficit will not be able to be confirmed or challenged by independent technical advisers.  Of course, the White House could ask the non-partisan actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – who previously released a report indicating the Senate bill would RAISE health costs, not lower them – to participate, but that would be highly unlikely.

Also, just to follow up on my earlier missive from this morning about David Brooks, his column indicated that Sen. McCain made an excise tax on health plans “a centerpiece of his [health] reform plan” during the 2008 campaign.  Of course, Sen. McCain did NOT propose a new excise tax like the “Cadillac tax” included in the Senate bill, but rather a re-structuring of the current exclusion for employer-provided health coverage such that individuals could use a tax subsidy to purchase the health insurance plan of their choosing.