Thursday, March 25, 2010

Vitter Amendment (#3665) to Sunset Based on Deficit Reduction

Below please find a summary from my colleague Jon Lieber regarding the Vitter amendment (#3665) to sunset Obamacare based on deficit reduction targets…


Senator Vitter is expected to offer an amendment #3665 to prevent the new government entitlement program from further increasing an unsustainable deficit.  This amendment would sunset the health care bill if the annual deficit reductions set out in the CBO score are not met. Please note this is subject to change mid-vote-a-rama.

Background and considerations

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the tax increases and Medicare cuts in this bill will result in a $143 billion reduction in the deficit between 2010 and 2019, despite more than a trillion dollars in new spending.  Relative to the CBO baseline, deficit reduction begins in 2012, when CBO projects the deficit will be $10 billion lower than it would have been without the bill.

Vitter #3665 requires that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act be suspended for one year if at the beginning of that year the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) determines that the “deficit targets” in the CBO score are not met.

Although CBO is an extremely professional and competent organization, their scoring estimates are highly uncertain and boxed in by restrictions placed upon them by Congress; the Washington Post outlined these restrictions in a recent article, saying that while CBO’s word is taken as gospel in Washington, “the reality is considerably messier.”

A number of budget gimmicks inserted by Democrats practically guarantee that the deficit reduction scored by CBO will not be met by the recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

CBO recently said that if one of those budget gimmicks, the missing “doc fix,” were added to this legislation the entire health reform package would increase the deficit by $59 billion over ten years.

OMB Director Peter Orszag recently said that health reform is “responsible and paid for”; Vitter #3665 would ensure that health reform is in fact done in a fiscally responsible manner by suspending the hundreds of billions in new spending in this bill if it turns out not to be.