CBO Report on Repealing Obamacare and Voxsplaining Muddy Interpretations

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The Supreme Court decision on ACA — The Affordable Care Act or the always evocative Obamacare — could be handed down this morning and, because no one seems to have a really good read on which way The Court will go  (Chief Justice Roberts shocked many a conservative the last time he took a long, hard look at this legislation, remember?), there have been some rather interesting stories coming out in preparation for whatever the decision may be.

The Huffington Post, for example, calls the divide over the public’s taste for the law “ambivalence”, and suggests it really comes down to partisanship. Of course, saying that someone likes or dislikes Obamacare BECAUSE they’re one party or the other is silly. It’s probably more true to say someone identifies with one party over another BECAUSE of policies like Obamacare:

The Supreme Court could issue a ruling in King v. Burwell, the lawsuit threatening to undermine a key part of the Affordable Care Act, as early as Monday. But the debate over President Barack Obama’s controversial health care law is likely to continue no matter how the justices rule. And one reason is that Americans, on the whole, remain deeply ambivalent about it…

The first and more obvious factor is partisanship. No single characteristic better predicts how a person feels about the health care law than his or her partisan affiliation. Republicans tend to think the law is a failure, while Democrats tend to think it’s a success — most likely because they are reacting to the party leaders and news sources they trust and distrust and because they have genuine philosophical differences about the law’s virtues.

The other factor is the changes that people see in their health insurance every day — changes that often have nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act. Many of the problems that spark complaints about Obamacare, such as rising out-of-pocket costs, might be worse if the law did not exist.

Also, pay close attention to the word “might” there. I might also win the lottery. Just throwing that out there.

Not surprisingly, the Congressional Budget Office also released a report revealing that, should ACA be repealed, federal deficits could increase $137 billion over a 10-year period. But again, pay close attention to the language used:

For many reasons, the budgetary and economic effects of repealing the ACA could differ substantially in either direction from the central estimates presented in this report. The uncertainty is sufficiently great that repealing the ACA could reduce deficits over the 2016–2025 period—or could increase deficits by a substantially larger margin than the agencies have estimated. However, CBO and JCT’s best estimate is that repealing the ACA would increase federal budget deficits by $137 billion over that 10-year period.

I haven’t read enough budget reports to know the answer to this — perhaps they build into every CBO report that, hey, it could fall dramatically either way — but this sounds an awful lot like a used-car salesman pitch. “Maybe it’ll break down as soon as you leave the lot, and maybe it won’t. But hey, you’ll have a car right now instead of having to do some work to save for something more reliable…”.

But leave it to Vox to “explain” just exactly how Obamacare could be saved using the Chevron deference. I’ll let you read it, and you should. But remember: this administration is arguing that the legislation THEY WROTE is ambiguous to them. And if that isn’t why people roll their eyes at Washington, I don’t know what is. Anyway, join me in watching SCOTUSBlog this morning for their decision. My popcorn is popped in preparation.


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