Sunday, October 13, 2013

Debunking Ryan's Zombie Lie: Obamacare Doesn't Add To The Deficit

As the Republican extortionists desperately thrash about in search of a rationale for their continuing government shutdown tantrum, Paul Ryan resorts to a zombie lie:

Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, those are the big drivers of our debt.
First of all, it would be hard for Obamacare to be a big driver of our debt, given that it just went live, but the bigger lie is that it would drive the debt at all. The Republicans claim this is all about fiscal responsibility and getting the deficit under control, which has no credibility at face value, given that Republicans themselves have no credibility on deficits, but specifically to the point, the Congressional Budget Office in 2011 scored Obamacare's budgetary impact (pdf):
Estimated Budgetary Effects from 2012 to 2021: Direct Spending and Revenues

The legislation will have a number of effects on the federal budget—including added
spending to subsidize the purchase of health insurance and increased outlays for Med-
icaid, as well as reductions in outlays for Medicare and added revenues from taxes,
fees, and penalties. On net, CBO and JCT’s latest comprehensive estimate is that the effects of the two laws on direct spending and revenues related to health care will reduce federal deficits by $210 billion over the 2012–2021 period (see Table 1).

Earlier this year, the right wing echosphere was abuzz because the new CBO score (pdf) supposedly projected a huge increase in the deficit. This was dishonest. The new CBO score did project that the health insurance coverage provisions will be enormously expensive, but the earlier score also projected that obvious fact. But that's not the bottom line. As you can read beneath the fold, the new CBO report made this explicit:
Those amounts do not reflect the total budgetary impact of the ACA. That legislation includes many other provisions that, on net, will reduce budget deficits. Taking the coverage provisions and other provisions together, CBO and JCT have estimated that the ACA will reduce deficits over the next 10 years and in the subsequent decade.
And in fact, the CBO now projects that the very expensive health insurance coverage provisions will cost $49 billion less than had been previously estimated. And the new CBO report then referenced its 2012 letter to John Boehner (pdf), which estimated the effect of the Republican bill H.R. 6079, which would have repealed Obamacare:
Assuming that H.R. 6079 is enacted near the beginning of fiscal year 2013, CBO and JCT estimate that, on balance, the direct spending and revenue effects of enacting that legislation would cause a net increase in federal budget deficits of $109 billion over the 2013–2022 period. Specifically, we estimate that H.R. 6079 would reduce direct spending by $890 billion and reduce revenues by $1 trillion between 2013 and 2022, thus adding $109 billion to federal budget deficits over that period.
That Obamacare would add to the deficit is one of the GOP's most insidious zombie lies. The CBO has been explict, both in its regular reports and in its letter sent specifically to John Boehner. The facts are clear, and must be repeated at least as often as are the zombie lies themselves. The truth is that Obamacare does not add to the deficit, it reduces it. The truth is that repealing Obamacare would not reduce the deficit, it would increase it.

The Republicans are lying. Again. The ostensible rationale for their attack on the ACA is exactly backward. Obamacare reduces the deficit. With Obamacare, the president and the Democrats not only are expanding the availability of health insurance, they are reducing the deficit.

Originally posted to Laurence Lewis on Thu Oct 10, 2013