ObamaCare update: CBO score, deem-and-pass and options in the Senate

Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a preliminary score of ObamaCare that shows an estimated cost of $945 billion over the next 10 years (text of the reconciliation bill was posted online, as well). The CBO also estimates that the legislation will result in deficit reduction of $138 billion over the same period of time. The report also indicates that 98% of the spending in the bill in the first decade comes in the last six years.

Because the estimate came in under $1 trillion, House Democratic leaders feel this helps their cause. Of course, the reason it comes in under $1 trillion is because Democrats tweeked the excise tax on health insurance plans. The legislation is also missing the $300 billion doc fix, which will come out separately.”

Also, it’s important to remember that the CBO score wasn’t a final analysis of the bill if you actually read it (emphasis mine):

Although CBO completed a preliminary review of legislative language prior to its release, the agency has not thoroughly examined the reconciliation proposal to verify its consistency with the previous draft. This estimate is therefore preliminary, pending a review of the language of the reconciliation proposal, as well as further review and refinement of the budgetary projections.

Megan McArdle weighed in on the bill over at The Atlantic last night, noting that the cost estimate relies on big question:

Ultimately, this rests on the question: are we really going to cut Medicare?  If we’re not, this gargantuan new entitlement is going to end up costing us about $200 billion a year next decade, which even in government terms is an awful lot of money.  There are offsetting taxes, but they’re either trivial or likely to be unpopular—look forward to a 4% rent increase when your landlord has to stump over the same amount for the new tax on rents.  Then look forward to repeal of same.

I think this is a fiscal disaster waiting to happen.  But no one on the other side cares, so I’m not sure how much point there is in saying that any more.

A bipartisan move to ensure that the Senate version of ObamaCare was given a true vote was shot down yesterday by a 222 to 203 vote (28 Democrats voted with Republicans). Michael Barone is trying to make some sense of this vote looking toward the weekend, however, it looks like passage is within reach as House Democrats are only a handful of votes short.

The daily update from Fire Dog Lake shows 204 in favor of ObamaCare to 211 against it. The Hill is still reporting 36 Democrats firmly against the bill or leaning against it, 38 are needed for its defeat.. The estimate provided by Fox News is 211 in favor, 220 against. That seems way too optimistic.

The final vote is expected on Sunday afternoon, which we will be live-blogging here at United Liberty beginning around noon. President Obama isn’t taking any chances and is further delaying his trip to Indonesia and Australia to ensure his is able to twist arms if needed to save his presidency (his words, not mine).

It does look like it is unlikely that the Senate will be able to pass the reconciliation package without changes due to provisions that would violate the Byrd Rule. Any changes to the bill in the Senate would require it to go back to the House, unless Senate Democrats can get 60 votes to wave the rule. Obviously, that’s unlikely.

According to the Byrd Rule, the reconciliation bill must deal with budget matters only. Anything outside that could wind up getting tossed out.

While Senate Republicans insist they hope to stop ObamaCare in the House, they are preparing to go to war if they battle comes to their side of Congress:

Republican aides have been mining the Senate’s arcane parliamentary rules for an attack that aims at striking elements both broad and narrow from the bill, weakening the measure and ultimately defeating it. Their goal is to force changes that leave Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) without 51 votes to pass it, or at the very least, that drive it back to the House for a second vote that drags out the process and saps Democratic resolve.
One senior Republican aide said staff and senators believe that as much as 40 percent of the measure can be killed through procedural objections.

Bottomline: We’re not done. ObamaCare hasn’t passed yet. Call your Representative and make your voice heard.

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